‘Invest in the arts to improve health’

Arts bosses are calling for ‘access and investment’ in cultural activities to be included in a new health and wellbeing strategy for the county.

Dacorum Arts Partnership, as it celebrates the borough’s Festival of Culture and Sport over the past 18 months, says the benefits of art and culture are ‘long established’.

The partnership makes the points in a submission to the Herts Health and Wellbeing Board, a new body including local authorities and the NHS that will take over responsibility for the local health service, social care, children’s services and public health next year.

The arts partnership says: “The essential benefits to be derived from active engagement with culture and the arts are long established and recognised to have high impact on wellbeing and the physical and mental health of people in our communities.

“However more access and investment into these assets would have a positive impact in helping to prevent certain health conditions, and treat others.”

The Health and Wellbeing Board is currently consulting on its document ‘Developing a health and wellbeing strategy for 2012-2015’.

In the strategy obesity, smoking and ‘managing long-term conditions’ to reduce use of emergency medical services are given top priorities.

The document notes that long term conditions represent 70 per cent of healthcare spend and 77 per cent of inpatient bed days.

The creation of Health and Wellbeing Boards is part of a government policy to increase the public’s voice in health services.