This short film is simply the amateur take of the filmmaker 'Omphalos' after attending the opening day of the conference: Culture, Health & Wellbeing in Bristol on Monday 24th June 2013.

This was quite simply the best conference day I have been to in my 20 year career as an NHS Consultant. I say this as an evidence-based doctor.

John Wyn Owen, Learned Society of Wales said before the conference:

“Unequivocally the arts and health are a way to health gain and wellbeing. Further it's timely that the Conference reviews progress and futures of the 1998 Nuffield Trust's Declaration of Windsor on the arts, health and wellbeing: beyond the millennium.”

I was most impressed with the keynote address given by John Wyn Owen. I have not heard a better or more impassioned overview for the argument that health science cannot simply divide itself from arts and humanities and real life!

I was equally impressed by the Chair, Professor Richard Parish, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health. As a Chair he was so wonderfully knowledgeable, hugely engaging, and to me, carried compassion with the sort of worldly intelligence (that I sometimes wonder) only public health fully 'gets'?

David Leventhal and 'Dance for Parkinsons' was inspiring and captured so much of what far too many of the medical 'imperatives' of today do not. Despite the talk of 'personhood' in healthcare, it would seem to me that targets and what have been termed 'single-issue fanatics' have dominated policy. Have we collectively lost our nerve for what is important: 'natural sciences' that include evidence, interactions, ethics and real-world understandings?

I have long implored medicine to embrace, far more fully, both public health and the medical humanities. This conference and the wonderful contributors reinforce my determination.

My experience in the NHS, and I speak of recent years, is that there remains a great divide between medical humanities and scientific biologism. There are of course many reasons for such. My medical colleagues often say to me when I share details of conferences such as this - I do not have time to read or look at this on my NHS-mail, why not set up a Facebook page?. . . the implication to me (and apologies to all if I am wrong) is that conferences such as this: on medical humanities, cultural determinants, public health, arts, anthropology are of lesser importance to healthcare. I am certain this is misguided.

I also think we need to encourage what is termed "healthy skepticism" in medicine. All interventions have potential for good and bad. All interventions need to be seen in the round and evaluated through evidence, ethics and also most crucially through engagement with those with whom the interventions may involve.

Anyway, that is my few thoughts.

I have made this film to thank the organisers of this tremendously well put-together course that abounded with inspirational people, thoughts, ideas and a collective determination to improve, health and wellbeing. My only sadness was (going by the attendee list) that there seemed (apart from the super GP's I met at lunch) less proportionate healthcare professional attendence. I will do my best to encourage otherwise for the next conference!

The background music tracks are by Dexter Britain under common licence and can be shared without copyright. Thanks to Dexter Britan - whose music features in a number of the films by Omphalos.

(1) "Losing Love" by Dexter Britain (
(2) "Summers Coming" by Dexter Britain (

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