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GPs should prescribe gardening to patients, finds report

GPs should be able to prescribe gardening for patients with conditions such as heart disease and dementia, a think-tank has recommended.

The King's Fund report, which reviewed a series of qualitative and quantitative studies, concluded that CCGs should 'include gardening as one of many opportunities for patients in social prescribing projects' and 'explore the case for reciprocal gardening schemes in their localities' together with councils and charities.

The report outlined how gardening can improve health across the ages and in specific cases such as mental health, long-term conditions and end-of-life care. Studies showed that gardening improved health for patients with heart disease and cancer and reduced agitation and improved sleep for patients with dementia.

It even claimed that prescribing gardening can be a way of reducing pressures on GP time because going outdoors improved mental health issues and wellbeing, reducing the need for GP visits.

The report said: 'Increasing people’s exposure to, and use of, green spaces has been linked to long-term reductions in overall reported health problems (including heart disease, cancer and musculoskeletal conditions), it has also been linked to reduced levels of obesity and high physical activity, and higher self-rated mental health...

’Estimates suggest that up to 20% of general practitioners’ time is spent on problems with social causes… [Gardening] may also therefore be a way to manage increasing demands on the NHS, including pressures on GPs’ time.’

It highlighted, as a positive example, the south London scheme which has seen 11 GP practices turn their outdoor space into vegetable patches for patients.

Readers' comments (19)

  • WTF! So if I'm spending my time blah-blah-blah-ing about gardening, when am I supposed to do my boiler inspections then?!

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  • Or refuse bin checks?!

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  • Sorry, could they be a little more specific? Gardening could be any where from common back yard to managing kew gardens.

    I don't seem to be able to find it on SystmOne prescription either. I know TPP can't be assed ensuring simple calculator is right but surely even they can put on gardening on their prescription system? Or may be it's not available on EPS yet.......

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  • I predict an alarming rise in Green Finger Syndrome as a result of this initiative.

    Honestly. What next? Can someone give me a supply of cute puppies and kittens I can prescribe for people feeling a bit in need of a snuggle?

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  • more ridiculous nonsense

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  • the only people gardening will be increased numbers of retiring GPs at this rate.

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  • I used to think the Kings Fund were at least worth listening to. This has shown me otherwise, I now see they are just another Ivory Tower in an alternative reality.

    Shame on you Kings Fund for coming out with something so trite and unrealistic.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    ER, most people now don't have an effing garden of any useful size.
    Except me- I have 0.5 acre and the idea of dements and flymos make me shudder. I'd be picking up amputated toes for years.

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  • Instead, give shovels to the NHSE bosses and get them move their thick assess - bloody parasites.

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