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Art-Lift brings NHS patients together with professional poets, painters, singers and crafts people in GP surgeries across Gloucestershire.

Artlift is a free health improvement intervention, commissioned by NHS Gloucestershire and provided by Gloucestershire County Council.  Professional artists resident within GP surgeries offer a range of creative activities to patients with a range of problems, as a way to improve health and emotional wellbeing.

The project originated when Dr Simon Opher, a GP in the Gloucestershire area, noticed that a lot of his patients were coming to see him with problems that were social or emotional as opposed to medical. This led to a high number of unnecessary medical consultations, which could potentially be reduced by offering alternative non-medical treatments. Phase 1 of Artlift ran from 2009 - 2011 showed promising results from a mixed methods evaluation design. From the quantitative aspect there were improvements in patient well-being, high levels of attendance and completion rates, and a reduction in use of GP time. Qualitative results also reported positive experiences and numerous perceived benefits, reported by patients who had successfully taken part in the programmes of art across the county.  

Artlift now runs in nine GP settings across the county, and is a partnership project between the Primary Care Trust, County Council, Arts Organisations, Adult Learning and the University of Gloucestershire.  A wide range of referrers include GPs, Health Visitors, IAPT workers, Mental Health Nurses, Sheltered Housing and Health Trainers.

The evaluation was carried out by the University of Gloucestershire and the Public Health Team, to monitor the uptake of the programme, impact on mental well-being (using the Warwick and Edinburgh well being measure) and impact on participants via in depth interviews.

“There is a growing body of evidence that participation in creative activities can improve patient well-being. Gloucestershire PCT is pleased to have commissioned this ambitious project which aims to improve the lives of patients across the county over the next 3 years.” Shona Arora, Director of Public Health, NHS Gloucestershire. 

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