Paintings in Hospitals secures National Lottery support on its 60th anniversary


Paintings in Hospitals has received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £9,800 to explore and share its heritage. The People, Paintings and Positivity project has been made possible by the monies raised by National Lottery players. It will focus on Paintings in Hospitals’ pioneering 60-year history and its impact on the nation’s health and wellbeing.

Supported through The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the People, Paintings and Positivity project will draw together narratives from Paintings in Hospitals’ extensive archives, from its unique art collection, and from the stories of the people involved, both past and present. The project will culminate in a free public exhibition at the Menier Gallery in London, co-created in collaboration with healthcare staff, which will include a soapbox talk event. The gallery exhibition will later become a touring display that will travel to two UK healthcare sites, enabling people from across the country to discover and discuss the hidden history of this unique organisation and how visual arts have supported the UK’s health and wellbeing over the last six decades.

Paintings in Hospitals is a national charity dedicated to inspiring better health and wellbeing through art. Founded in 1959, Paintings in Hospitals was an early pioneer of the now flourishing ‘arts in health’ sector and, today, its art loans, artist projects and creative workshops touch the lives of two million patients and carers every year. People, Paintings and Positivity participants and exhibition visitors will gain insight into a hidden history and gain a deeper knowledge of how art can benefit our day-to-day mental and physical health.

Commenting on the award, Ben Pearce, Director of Paintings in Hospitals, said:
“We are delighted that The National Lottery Heritage Fund are supporting our work. We are very excited to begin celebrating 60 years of Paintings in Hospitals. For the past six decades, we have been working across every type of health and social care site – from hospitals to care homes – to transform the UK’s health through museum-quality art. Art is proven to help us stay well and aid our recovery from illness and injury. Now more than ever, it is vital that people are aware of the enormous contribution art has made and will make to public health in these challenging times.”


Swedish massage can help improve sleep


One in five people experience excessive tiredness at any given time, while one in 10 have chronic fatigue (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2018)

Fatigue and depleted energy could be addressed with weekly Swedish and Thai massage, suggests a study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (MacSween et al, 2017).

Researchers from Teesside University and the University of Leeds invited 20 participants with fatigue and/or depleted energy to receive treatments with a massage therapist. The participants all agreed to commit to a six-week study and complete diary entries on how they felt after treatments in Swedish and Thai massage, administered by Susan Lorrimer, a member of the FHT.

The participants were split into two groups and half of them received three weekly 45-minute Swedish massage treatments. This was followed by three in Thai massage therapy from weeks four to six. The treatment order was reversed for the other 10 participants.

The results showed that both Swedish and Thai massage relieved symptoms of fatigue or depleted energy by reducing stress, promoting relaxation, relieving pain and improving energy.

However, Swedish massage was more effective than Thai in improving sleep, promoting relaxation and de-stressing. Thai massage was more energising, rejuvenating and motivating and had longer lasting benefits than Swedish.

Read the study abstract here


For full references, go to

Photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash


We hope you enjoyed this article, which was first published in the Spring 2018 issue of International Therapist!

International Therapist is the FHT’s membership magazine. Published on a quarterly basis, it offers a broad range of articles – from aromatherapy and electrolysis, to sports injuries and regulation updates. The magazine is a membership benefit and is not available off-the-shelf or by subscription.

Join today to start receiving the leading magazine for professional therapists.

People with Alzheimer’s at greater risk from head injuries


People with Alzheimer’s disease are 30% more likely to experience head injuries and 50% more likely to experience traumatic brain injuries than those who don’t have the disease, a recent study from University of Eastern Finland shows.

This is the first study that has assessed the incidence of head and traumatic brain injuries among people with Alzheimer’s. Falls are the most common cause of head injuries in older adults, and those with Alzheimer’s are known to have a higher risk of falling. The findings of this study highlight the importance of fall prevention, as head injuries can shorten the life expectancy and deteriorate functional capacity. When people with Alzheimer’s experience head injuries, this can dramatically reduce their ability to perform daily tasks and live independently, even at early stages of the disease.

The study included all ‘community-dwelling’ people who received an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis in Finland between 2005 and 2011. From the overall cohort, 67,172 persons without a previous head injury were selected for the study. For comparison, a matching person with neither Alzheimer’s disease nor a previous head injury was identified with respect to age, sex and university hospital district.

Dr Chatterjee looks at the real causes of depression in new podcast

Dr Chatterjee1GP, Author and TV Presenter, Dr Rangan Chatterjee looks at uncovering the real causes of depression in part one of his latest Feel Better, Live More podcast.

Rangan talks to author and journalist, Johann Hari, who says although we have been told a story that drugs are a solution to depression and anxiety, in many cases the cause is not in our biology but in the way that we live. He argues that being depressed or anxious does not mean that you are crazy, weak or a machine with broken parts, rather that your natural psychological needs are not being met.

They discuss  how loneliness affects us and how social prescribing can transform lives; how societal values have been corrupted and the affect this is having on our health; and the role of the workplace, and how having autonomy and choices can reduce the likelihood of depression and anxiety.

Dr Chatterjee depression low res

In the interview Johann Hari talks about Sir Sam Everington, who he describes as one of the heroes of his book, Lost Connections. Sir Sam Everington is one of the pioneers of social prescribing and will be familiar to FHT members as one of the speakers at our 2018 FHT Conference, where he spoke about how he has implemented social prescribing in Bromley By Bow, London.

Listen to the podcast here



College of Medicine publishes Complementary Medicine Roundup

Dr Michael Dixon.jpg

The College of Medicine has published its latest Complementary Medicine Roundup. Written by former barrister, Richard Eaton, the February roundup is packed with a wealth of information on the latest developments in complementary therapy, from research and advocacy, to current challenges and areas of progress.

The latest roundup begins with a mention of the 2018 FHT Conference, highlighting how Dr Michael Dixon spoke about a ‘”new horizon” for complementary and alternative medicine and integrated health and of its increasing acceptance by younger members of the (conventional) medical profession’.

Richard goes on to say that this increased acceptance of CAM is not limited to the UK, with progress being made in other countries, including the USA, Switzerland, Germany, France, Australia, India and the Netherlands.

As Richard notes, the ethos of a new horizon is reflected in the All-Party Parliamentary Group For Integrated Healthcare (PGIH) report, which we have also talked about on the FHT blog.

The roundup also looks at what could be next for CAM after Brexit, some research initiatives from Bristol University and an overview of research supporting the use of reiki.

Dr Leon Chaitow 2.jpgRichard ends the roundup by paying tribute to Dr Leon Chaitow and Dr Peter Fisher, who both sadly died last year. Dr Chaitow and Dr Fisher were highly influential figures, championing the use of CAM for many years, and will be missed. Dr Chaitow was an author and academic at the University of Westminster, who published more than 80 books on therapy, and was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies. Dr Fisher was director of research at University College London Hospital for Integrated Medicine and physician to the Queen, and was committed to holistic and compassionate care.

Read an interview with Dr Leon Chaitow in our online Reading Room


Read the full February Complementary Therapy roundup here

Mindful March


Being more mindful and living in the moment is the main focus of Action for Happiness’ (AFH) Mindful March action calendar.

AFH publishes monthly calendars, available in 12 different languages, offering daily suggestions on the theme of the respective month. Mindful March follows Friendly February, where daily actions aimed to bring happiness to others and improve relationships.

Suggestions for Mindful March include the following:

  • Start today by appreciating that you’re alive and have a body
  • Cultivate a feeling of loving kindness towards others today
  • Listen to a piece of music without doing anything else
  • Stop, breathe and just notice. Repeat regularly during the day
  • Have a device-free day and enjoy the space it offers

Download the calendar

NHS England to recruit 1,000 social prescribing link workers

gardening pixabay

An army of advisers will be recruited to help patients live fitter, healthier lives and combat anxiety, loneliness and depression under recent plans by NHS England to ramp up social prescribing.

Around half of GP appointments are not directly related to medical conditions, according to experts. Growing evidence shows that referrals to community services such as exercise or art classes, history groups and even ballroom dancing can boost health and wellbeing more than dishing out pills or other treatments.

Now NHS England plans to recruit 1,000 social prescribing ‘link workers’ as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. The link workers will be able to give people time to talk about what matters to them and support them to find suitable activities that are a better alternative to medication as part of a step change in the provision of ‘personalised care’.

FHT Conference Michael Dixon

Dr Michael Dixon, Chair of the College of Medicine, welcomed the news. The GP and social prescribing campaigner said: ‘This is excellent news for general practice, which is on its knees. This extra support of pharmacists, physiotherapists, social prescribers and others will make a great difference to the workload of each GP.

‘Patients want a return to the time when they had ‘their doctor’. These new developments will greatly help that, but we will also require more GPs at a time when their numbers have actually been going down during years when the number of specialists has vastly increased.

‘Enabling practice to provide accessible, personal and continuing care should now be the NHS’s number one priority as all the research shows that this is the best way to reduce deaths, improve health and enable the NHS to be financially sustainable.

‘This announcement is also a paradigm change for general practice. Every GP and patient will in future have access to social prescription.

‘It is recognition that medicine now needs to go beyond pills and procedures and that the future sustainability of our health system will depend upon enabling people and communities to maximise their role as agents of health and healing themselves. This is a red-letter day for the College of Medicine, which has pressed the cause for change during times when medicine has been too narrow and biomedical.’

Michael will be offering FHT members some tips on how to connect with these new link workers in the Spring issue of International Therapist magazine.