Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children

Great Ormond Street Hospital’s arts participation programme, GOSH Arts, was formally established in 2006 and has grown significantly over the last decade.

GOSH Arts commissions pieces of art to display at the hospital, and curates a participatory programme of arts activities which includes theatre, visual arts, dance and music. The programme is funded by the Great Ormond Street Children’s Charity.

We believe the programme supports early intervention and cultural entitlement for families who would otherwise be missing out on these opportunities due to being in hospital. The arts are an integral part of childhood, and no child should be denied access to cultural activities because they are ill.

The aim of the service is to enhance the hospital environment and experience for patients, families and staff. Through a variety of carefully curated artist-led activities, performances, residencies and art commissions, GOSH Arts delivers an extremely high quality cultural programme that currently benefits at least 12,000 direct participants per year. Indirectly we reach many more patients, families and staff through our art commissions and innovative environments, or by experiencing music and performance in public areas.

The service covers a diverse range of art forms from music, theatre, visual art and dance to digital media and design. The unique opportunities we provide reflect the cultural diversity of GOSH patients, visitors and staff and inspire creativity and learning across the Trust.

We work with a range of artists and arts organisations, examples of which have featured as case studies on the Engage website.

Internal evaluation of the programme shows high level of patient satisfaction. From a sample of 452 users in 2016/17, 95% of rated activities as ‘Excellent’ and 99% said it ‘Improved’ their experience of hospital. Please see below for a selection of feedback from GOSH patients, families and staff.

The half hour of listening and playing along with the musicians took our minds off why we were here. Not only enjoyable for our baby but also for us as parents.


I think it was an amazing experience. It makes me like the hospital. I would come more often and it opens up my imagination.


GOSH Arts is a brilliant way of distracting and entertaining patients. Listening to them sing and play is very calming and for patients to get involved too is a great bonus.


In 2016 we also commissioned Breathe Arts Research to undertake an evaluation of our activities in outpatient areas, to better understand the impact of our activities. The evaluation used mixed methods, including staff (n=26) and parent (n= 77) questionnaires and the Arts Observational scale (n=368); a non–invasive validation scale that has been specifically developed to measure the impact of arts interventions in healthcare settings.

Headline findings

  • On average, 77-83% of children who are in a waiting area when GOSH Arts Activities are taking place in waiting areas actively engage with the activities
  • The quality of the activities is rated 4.5/5 stars by parents and 4.4/5 by staff
  • 92% of parents believe the activities improve the family experience of being in hospital
  • 69% of parents report that the activities distract their child from being in hospital
  • Parents report that the activities make the waiting areas appear more safe, creative, caring and kind
  • 13% fewer children display disruptive behaviours in the waiting areas in the presence of activities compared to no activities
  • 94% of staff report that the activities make their job easier and reduce the number of complaints
  • 90% of staff feel the activities help them to feel relaxed too
  • 95% of staff feel the activities improve their work environment
  • 96% of staff feel the activities should continue to be funded in the outpatient waiting areas

Susannah Hall, Head of Arts
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust
All images courtesy of GOSH Arts