Nature to be prescribed to GP patients in Derbyshire


Nature is to be prescribed by health professionals for the first time in England, following a successful pilot in Scotland.

The trial in Derbyshire will see prescribing services offer patients ideas such as listening to birdsong. Tom Miller, a GP in Buxton, said: "Evidence is emerging that time outdoors is good for our health."

Prescribers will issue patients with a calendar of ideas (RSPB).

The project is being led by the RSPB and the Peak District National Park Authority. They will work with two social prescribing services in the High Peak, which receive referrals from 13 different GP practices in the area, community mental health teams, adult social care and the Live Life Better Derbyshire scheme, as well as self-referrals.

Organisers said the Nature Prescriptions trial would include a leaflet and a calendar of ideas to enable people to connect with nature and boost their health and wellbeing. They said there was growing evidence indicating the physical and mental health benefits of connecting with nature, including reduced stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression, and added that the prescriptions were based on accessible, self-led activities that people could do from home, on their own or with others.

Sarah Walker, nature and wellbeing project manager at RSPB England, said: "I'm thrilled to see the project coming to life in the High Peak and can’t wait to see how people in the area benefit from Nature Prescriptions. Working together with the Peak District National Park we have used our experience of connecting people to nature combined with the local knowledge of social prescribing services to develop something which is locally relevant and accessible for people to do from their own homes or close by. At the end of the day we're all part of the natural world, and helping people to connect with it is so important."

The trial comes on the back of successful pilot projects ran by RSPB Scotland in the Shetland Isles and Edinburgh, which resulted in over 74% of patients saying they had benefitted. The project is now also expanding to other locations in Scotland.