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GP practices turn outdoor space into vegetable patches for patients

GPs in Lambeth have made the headlines of a national newspaper after turning their practices’ outdoor space into vegetable gardens used to treat patients.

The Guardian has picked up on the scheme under which socially isolated patients who are lonely, have a long-term condition or mental health problem can be referred to grow fruit and vegetables.

The £160,000 scheme, run out of 11 practices is the south London borough since 2013, funded by NHS Lambeth CCG and Lambeth Council, aims to improve both physical and mental health of patients who are referred to it.

An added bonus, in an area where food bank usage is high, is that the patients get to eat everything they produce. The co-op has also announced plans to sell the produce at a stall in the restaurant of King’s College Hospital.

Most of the participants are older patients, and over 200 have been involved in the service altogether, although there are far fewer regulars with most turning up only when the weather is good.

Dr David Wickstead, a GP partner at one of the practices involved, told the paper: ‘It’s good for us [doctors], because the danger with mental health patients is that you stick to medication – changing it, changing the dosage, trying a new therapy and so on. So the fact that we have something else with a different approach is fantastic.’

Dr Raj Mitra, another GP partner involved in the service, said it also helped reduce GP attendances.

He said: ‘The people who come here to garden see us less often.’

Readers' comments (7)

  • Other News,Her Majesties Government make General Practice a S**t heap lose a generation.

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  • sounds like s great idea until one of the punters figures out how to sue them for a trip overt garden rake and your liability insurance won't cough up. Best get hem to sign a waiver.

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  • Oh for Gods sake.

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  • Excellent. I wish my practise would do the same.After a typical crappy day being a GP my head is absolutely cabbaged; I think sitting in a vegetable plot after surgery I would be able to de-stress by associating with my empathetic equals.

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  • "Come and see our vegetables ...............er,no not in the Waiting Room!".

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  • It's very disheartening as a trainee to see the level of cynicism and negativity associated with every article such as this. Yes, the bigger picture is almost insurmountable deconstruction and privatisation by a callous government, and morale is low, but when somebody shows the motivation to engage in social enterprise and innovative approaches to helping their population, it's almost always met with groans on this site. We get it, you don't enjoy general practice any more, but the toxic trickle down of everyone's negativity is contaminating the next generations of trainees who might actually find enterprising ideas such as this motivational and inspiring.

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  • There are projects like this springing up in different areas.eg another practice has a gardening club tai chi and photography -none of it requiring outside funding.people in the community have many skills It was not set up only for the users of the practice's benefit but for the GPs who want to return to the days when they get to know people as human beings and they themselves have more human relationships rather than seeing people as units to be ticked off on check boxes. Those who knock these enterprising projects seem to have a knee jerk cynicism as 11.36am states....and these are the ones who seem most to dislike the job and those who consult them. It's not for everyone - neither those who use the practices nor those who work there....there's no compulsion to get involved so why bash those who do?

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