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Dr Mark Taubert is a Consultant & Senior Lecturer in Palliative Medicine & strategic lead for Advance & Future Care Planning for Wales
An exhibition celebrating the NHS at 70 is showcasing at the HeARTh Gallery in Llandough this summer. Among the art work is a video installation I have been very involved in. It is a collaboration between Velindre NHS Trust, NHS Wales, Falmouth University, the Bevan Commission and the end of life care coalition Byw Nawr. The Talk CPR project (http://talkcpr.wales ) has multiple facets, but one includes work with graphic design lecturers and students from Falmouth University.
I first met with The Talk CPR Project in 2017 to discuss ways in which we could create visual and graphic stimuli to talk about future wishes surrounding death, dying and matters such as prior views about potential cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The art students and lecturers were very receptive and asked some really searching questions of what we are doing in frontline medicine. We discussed the tendency in healthcare today to default to interventions like CPR and intensive care, and how this may be right for some, but not for others.
We also talked about the low success rates for CPR in people with advanced cancers or with palliative conditions. It was really a discussion about prudent healthcare and how we can make better decisions together with patients and those close to them in advance of things getting worse. Over a period of six months, the students created some intriguing and challenging artwork that looked at it all from a very different angle.
In the stop-frame video they are informing the public, and encouraging them to go to their doctor or nurse, to chat about their views on how their future healthcare may look like; in advance of getting too unwell to properly communicate this sort of thing.
It was a tremendous collaboration and I think medics in the NHS and elsewhere would do well to step out of their clinical comfort zone and construct something with artists, especially if there is an important message they wish to convey. It goes beyond the dull, mass-produced patient information leaflet that no one reads.
I feel this is an integral message for the NHS at 70: don't isolate yourself, be an outward-looking, creative septuagenarian, who embraces culture. And don’t think for one minute that such an investment is a waste of time. Far too often we deprioritise this sort of work because we are too busy being busy. But if we don’t invest in better education for the wider public, then the hamster wheel of our working lives in healthcare will keep spinning faster.
The art students who created the video were Alicia Bray-Whitworth, Jemma Edwardes, Sarah Lebaigue, with support from Falmouth lecturers Nikki Salkeld and Ashley Rudolph. The art work has been viewed by numerous visitors to the gallery, including Cabinet Secretary for Health, Vaughan Gething and the great nieces of Aneurin Bevan, Nygaire Bevan and Jane Williams. A big thank you has to go to Melanie Wotton and Simone Joslyn, who organised the NHS70 exhibition at HeART Gallery, and did not shy away from this controversial subject.
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