NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been selected to become one of only two areas in England to explore opportunities for incorporating arts and culture into the health and wellbeing services it buys for people living in Gloucestershire.

The CCG was chosen by the Cultural Commissioning Programme to take part in this new three-year programme which will build links between health services and museums, libraries and arts organisations.

Funded by the Arts Council, the project will help raise awareness of the potential for arts and culture to help improve the health and wellbeing of the county’s residents.

Dr Helen Miller, GP and Clinical Chair at NHS Gloucestershire CCG, said:

“We have a good reputation for buying creative and innovative services, and this project provides an excellent opportunity to explore how arts and cultural organisations can be more involved in our strategic commissioning process, which means helping us to identify what people need and how we can provide new services that will benefit their health and wellbeing.

We welcome the opportunity to be a part of this exciting project.”

Dr Simon Opher, GP in Dursley, said:

“We are always looking for new and innovative ways to ensure we get the best health and wellbeing outcomes for our residents from the limited resources available to us. Tapping into artistic, cultural and creative activities will help us to explore and introduce opportunities to enhance and support medical interventions.

Locally, we have already introduced art and culture into a number of our services, for example, the ten-week art programme provided by Artlift. GPs can refer patients to this for a number of reasons, such as reducing stress, anxiety or depression, improving self-esteem or confidence, increasing social networks, alleviating the symptoms of illness or chronic pain or distracting from behavior-related health issues.”

The CCG is also introducing social prescribing in parts of the county, working with local councils and voluntary organisations to encourage healthcare professionals to actively prescribe a range of non-medical, community based services, including the arts, using community referral hubs.

The CCG will work with a number of partner organisations to take this project forward.