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Independents' Day

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)

  • GPs are ideally placed to cure all the world's social ills.

    What utter twaddle from the Kings Fund

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  • Is there ANYTHING that we should not prescribe on NHS?!!

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  • When will my local medicines management group allow me to prescribe a privileged upbringing, a university degree, high paid job, a caring partner, or better yet - just prescribe cash!!

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  • FFS lots of prawn sandwiches and powerpoint to come to this load of twaddle. Couldn't people be allowed to make their own lifestyle choices and accept the pay back when it comes.

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  • ditch the country comrades!

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  • Surely people can go out into their own garden of their own free will. You don't need a doctor to give you permission to do this. WTF nonsense is this?

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  • good idea - one of the big problems as well is that some people forget to breathe.

    think of the lives we would save by prescribing breathing

    there is online help

    the King's fund need to commission an emergency conference in the Bahamas to look into this followed by lobbying. hopefully the contract to train healthcare professionals on this will go to a conservative politicians business interest. it can then come part of re-validation and CQC criteria.

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  • Great idea. I've just asked ten patients to come and do my garden......

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  • ive told my receptionists that anyone who calls for an appointment should be told to stop bothering us and go back to their gardening.

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  • disappointment once again, the proposal doesn't go far enough. GP is ideally placed to prescribe and monitor gardening , cleaning, cooking, shopping and lots of other complex human activities that might go astray without professional input. Think about it- someone may make some error any minute!!!
    We must be close enough to support ...everyone and everywhere. I've had enough of doing pointless surgeries, the only good this sort of activity does is to maybe identify few ill people. Shut your practices and go and join your patients in their natural habitat. Because, as any politician or f-ing cqc droid will tell you, they are worth it.

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