Creative Health and the Health and Care Bill (update 23 March 2022)
This month National Centre for Creative Health Chair and Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance President, Lord Howarth, has once again been advocating the value of creative health in the House of Lords as the Health and Care Bill moved into the final stages of discussion before it is adopted into legislation.
The Health and Care Bill and Creative Health
The Health and Care Bill promotes greater integration of health and care services in England, through the establishment of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), and together with the NHS Long Term Plan, places greater emphasis on personalised care and prevention of illness, providing a good opportunity to draw on the potential of creative health approaches to improve health and quality of life.
In previous debates, Lord Howarth highlighted the vital role creative health can play in several areas covered by the Bill including patient choice, innovation, research, education and training, palliative care, integration and public involvement. He provided examples of the pioneering work carried out by a range of organisations across the country and his comments received much support among peers.
The Health and Care Bill provides flexibility for ICSs to arrange healthcare services in response to local need, and therefore could lead to greater inclusion of non-clinical and creative health providers in healthcare planning and delivery. Maximising this potential will require knowledge and awareness of the benefits of creative health approaches in healthcare leadership, and the development of effective and sustainable funding and commissioning models to fully embed creative health across the system.
For this reason, Lord Howarth proposed a review of creative health, which would build on the expanding body of evidence for effective creative interventions, and address how we can best apply this at ICS and national policy level, taking into account the context of recovery from the pandemic and a focus in policy on levelling up and reducing health inequalities.
A review of Creative Health
In his speech to the House of Lords, Lord Howarth outlined the strength of the evidence, pointing to the role for creative health in preventing and treating a range of mental and physical health conditions including anxiety and depression, dementia and long-term conditions. He also spoke of the contribution creative activities can make in strengthening communities, increasing social connections and improving the conditions in which people live, mitigating the social determinants which negatively impact health and thereby helping to tackle health inequalities.
Much of this evidence was collated in the 2017 report Creative Health, produced by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts Health and Wellbeing, and the studies presented in the 2019 WHO Scoping review ‘What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being?’ authored by Dr Daisy Fancourt and Saoirse Finn. A future review would build on this work to consider the current extent of creative health provision, gaps in the evidence base, the links between creative health and health inequalities and ways to integrate creative health into healthcare systems, including the benefits and cost benefits of doing so. Such a review would incorporate the experience and perspectives of a range of stakeholders including practitioners and people with lived experience of the impacts of creative health. It would make recommendations to the government and be used to influence policy and support system leaders to embrace creative approaches.
The proposed review would complement the work currently being carried out by the National Centre for Creative Health, Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance and Lived Experience Network to foster the conditions for the arts and culture to play a fuller role in supporting people to live healthier, longer lives. We will now consider the best approach to the review, to ensure that the full spectrum of creative health activities is recognised and utilised in the best possible way to improve health.
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