NHS docs study art to become more humane

November 5, 1999

Doctors will be encouraged to explore their artistic side in a new scheme aiming to create a more humane national health service.

The Nuffield Trust and the University of Durham have joined forces to set up a national coordinating council and centre for integrating the arts and humanities into the NHS.

These will explore the value of introducing more elements of literature, philosophy, history and art alongside the science and technology that tend to dominate traditional healthcare.

They will try to bring arts and humanities into mainstream medical and healthcare education, coordinate links between institutions dealing with arts and humanities in health and pool information and research.

The aim is to create better educated, healthier and more rounded health practitioners and to empower patients through creative expression.

Sir Kenneth Calman, former chief medical officer and now vice-chancellor at Durham, told the latest conference, in September, that it was "an idea whose time has definitely come".

It could even mean "art reps" visiting doctors in surgeries to promote treatments, much as drug reps do today.

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