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GPs urged by MPs to prescribe poetry and painting

GPs should be able to prescribe poetry workshops or painting lessons as part of arts-on-prescription schemes to improve patients’ health and wellbeing, according to an All-Party Parliamentary Group.

A new report from the group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing argues that the arts can help meet major challenges facing health and social care including ageing, long-term conditions, loneliness and mental health.

It points to an innovative Artlift arts-on-prescription scheme in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, where GPs refer patients with a wide range of conditions – from chronic pain to stroke to anxiety and depression – to take part in an eight-week course of two-hour sessions led a professional working in poetry, ceramics, drawing, mosaic or painting.

A cost-benefit analysis of Artlift from 2009 to 2012 showed that, after six months of working with an artist, people had 37% less demand for GP appointments and their need for hospital admission dropped by 27%.

Setting reductions in costs to the NHS against the cost of Artlift interventions, there was a net saving of £216 per patient, the report points out.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group recommends that NHS England and the Social Prescribing Network support clinical commissioning groups, NHS provider trusts and local authorities to ‘incorporate arts on prescription into their commissioning plans and to redesign care pathways where appropriate’.

It would also like to see that the education of clinicians includes accredited modules on the evidence base and practical use of the arts for health and wellbeing outcomes.

In the foreword to the report, Lord Howarth of Newport, co-chair for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, said: ‘The evidence we present shows how arts-based approaches can help people to stay well, recover faster, manage long-term conditions and experience a better quality of life.’

Readers' comments (23)

  • Cobblers

    Holy Picasso Batman. I have in my time gone through a wobbly old biddies dustbins to find empty booze bottles. That is evidence based and taught, I hope, to aspiring GPs.

    Some time back I was asked to look out for the elderly's central heating system and boiler. Not my job missus.

    Now we have arts-on-prescription scheme!

    My thoughts are unprintable. Even the Cardies will be revolting I hope.

    I suggest that we should be sending these people to another surgery. The MPs surgery. They can refer people to this scheme and smile whilst doing it.

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  • doctordog.

    Pulse, you only run these articles to annoy us.

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  • David Banner

    There was a young lady from Bainting,
    Who complained she couldn't stop fainting.
    She told her GP,
    Who told her for free,
    "You should try some therapeutic painting"

    (Then she reported him to the GMC who are examining his poetry/painting therapies more closely...)

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  • Sorry won't be able to memorize referral criteria. Still trying to learn how to do boiler checks

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  • I think its a splendid idea and the value of arts, crafts and music as therapeutic modalities should never be underestimated.

    For example,a practical skill like how to tie knots might serve as an inspiration to someone who is depressed.

    I also think "A Good Heart is Hard to Find" by Fergal Sharkey should be mandatory audio entertainment in the Cardiothoracic Surgeons waiting room and "I like the Way You Move" by the Body Rockers should be played in the neurologists waiting room when doing a Movement Disorder clinic.

    We need to leave behind our aged paradigms of care behind people. Please don't just diss it without realising this is what general practise needs to make it sexy, yo.

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  • Hi Five IDGAF!

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  • Fist Bump Bro!

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  • All alone, or in twos
    The ones who really love you
    Walk up and down outside the wall
    Some hand in hand
    And some gathered together in bands
    The bleeding hearts and artists
    Make their stand
    And when they've given you their all
    Some stagger and fall, after all it's not easy
    Banging your heart against some mad bugger's wall

    Pink Floyd. Says it all.

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  • No problem. They can simply self refer and given a telephone number to call like a lot of other counselling services.

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  • Just reading this thread, what on earth has happened to GPs in this country. Have we all become cynical monsters. There is this great crisis going on, no one wants to be a GP, everyone wants to see a GP, we all moan that they don't need to see us. This scheme, like social prescribing, is seen as useless by a lot of GPs and so we end up seeing more and more patients with psycho social type problems when we could be diverting them into some other courses like gardening or volunteering or music or even writing. Like Ivan Ilich said, we have created this dependency, along with the press, so we have to do something different before we all drown. Pessimism and cynicism is a luxury guys, and we cant afford it anymore.

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