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In this regular column we will be including brief reports, announcements and items of news on developments or events of significance to the field of medical humanities. In this first issue British items feature prominently, but the editors welcome material from around the world. Contributors are invited to send material directly to the editors, David Greaves and Martyn Evans, Centre for Philosophy and Health Care, School of Health Science, University of Wales Swansea, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP. Email: medical.humanities@; website: www.medhums. com

New Institute of Medical Humanities in UK

Perhaps the most significant single academic development in the UK in recent years is the establishment of a new Institute of Medical Humanities, whose council is to be chaired by Michael Baum, Professor of Surgery at University College Hospital, London. Professor Baum and Dr Robin Philipp of the University of Bristol here report on the institute's background and establishment.

“During the past seven years interest in roles of the arts in health and health care has evolved rapidly amongst health professionals. Much of the present interest is moving beyond advocacy to a recognition of the need for good qualitative and quantitative research to improve the ‘evidence base’ of health benefits from different and specific interventions and to help justify the provision of services. Nevertheless, an arts-science gradient is clearly recognised. It ‘spans the artistic, intuitive, inspirational and subjective viewpoints, and the measurable, objective, deductive, logical and scientific perspective’. Arts practitioners, health professionals, service users and members of the public are exploring collaborative ways forward to ensure sustainable educational development, appropriate standard setting for group work and for courses and research, criteria for good professional practice, improved ways of disseminating information and better empowering of public action.

“Against this background, Sir Kenneth Calman, formerly the UK Chief Medical Officer and now Vice Chancellor, Durham University, convened …

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