Patients with type 2 diabetes are being offered free bike hire on prescription by GPs as part of a new pilot in Wales.
The pilot is the first of its kind in the UK and will allow GPs to prescribe a six-month membership to Nextbike, a company that allows people to share bikes in different locations across the UK.
It is being led by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, which said the scheme will initially begin in two GP practices in the capital city.
GPs in Lansdowne Surgery and Fairwater Health Centre will be allowed to prescribe the membership to not only patients with type 2 diabetes, but also to patients who they believe would physically benefit from cycling.
Dr Tom Porter, public health medicine consultant at Cardiff and Vale UHB and Public Health Wales, said if the initiative is successful it will be expanded to to other practices in the city.
He said: ‘For the first phase of the pilot we want to make sure the scheme works as intended and is easy to use for patients and their health professionals, so we’ll be seeking feedback from participants. If the approach proves successful we’ll look at making it more widely available across the city.’
Len Richards, chief executive of Cardiff and Vale UHB said: ‘This is a promising pilot which has the full support of the UHB. As a health board, we know that prevention and health promotion is one of our most important roles and are keen to promote activities which keep people healthy.’
Elsewhere, a woodland charity has suggested GPs should prescribe ‘forest bathing’ and other nature-based activities on the NHS.
Meanwhile, social prescribers are just one of the roles that will support new primary care networks in England, with NHS England fully-funding 1,000 social prescribers by April 2021.