In the UK, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing conducted an Inquiry into practice and research in the arts in health and social care (2015 – 2017), with a view to making recommendations to improve policy and practice.

Points and extracts from Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing:

In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as a ‘state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’.

Expanding its definition as part of the Health 2020 strategy, WHO noted that ‘Good health for communities is a resource and capacity that can contribute to achieving strong, dynamic and creative societies. Health and wellbeing include physical, cognitive, emotional and social dimensions. They are influenced by a range of biomedical, psychological, social, economic and environmental factors that interconnect across people in differing ways and at different times across the life-course’.

“The UK healthcare system is largely geared up to addressing acute situations in which health is compromised.”

“With ferocious pressure on funding, little capacity within the NHS and social care has been available to support more than the maintenance of existing services. The NHS has, in any case, been intently focused on acute medicine and too little on prevention or the management of chronic conditions.”

A manifesto addressing the challenges faced by the NHS in present circumstances suggests ‘The transformation of the health and care system from a hospital-centred and illness-based system to a person-centred and health-based system needs to be accelerated and funded’ and ‘The UK needs to develop and implement a plan for building a health-creating society supported by all sectors of the economy and the wider population’.

“We firmly believe that the arts can be enlisted to assist in addressing a number of difficult and pressing policy challenges:

strengthening preventative strategies to maintain health for all; helping frail and older people stay healthy and independent; enabling patients to take a more active role in their own health and care; improving recovery from illness; enhancing mental healthcare; improving social care; mitigating social isolation and loneliness, strengthening local services and promoting more cohesive communities; enabling more cost-effective use of resources within theNHS; relieving pressure on GP services; increasing wellbeing among staff in health and social care; encouraging voluntary work; creating a more humane and positive existence for prisoners; enhancing the quality of the built environment; and ensuring more equitable distribution of arts resources and better access to the arts for people who are socially or economically disadvantaged.”