Nature to prescribe to GP patients in Derbyshire

A woman who admires nature

The trial will see it offer a range of ideas to help patients connect with the natural world.

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

The Derbyshire trial will see prescribing services offer patients ideas like listening to bird chirps.

“The evidence is emerging that time spent outdoors is good for our health,” said Tom Miller, GP in Buxton.

The project is managed by the RSPB and the Peak District National Park Authority.

At High Peak, they will work with two social prescription services that receive referrals from 13 different GP practices in the area, community mental health teams, adult social care and the Live Life Better Derbyshire program, and self-referrals.

The organizers said the Nature Recipes trial will include a brochure and a calendar of ideas to help people connect with nature and increase their health and well-being.

They said there is growing evidence showing physical and mental health benefits of connecting with nature, including reductions in stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression.

They said the prescriptions are based on accessible, self-executed activities that people can do from home, on their own or with others.

The trial followed successful pilot projects conducted by RSPB Scotland in the Shetland Islands and Edinburgh, which resulted in over 74% of patients saying they had benefited.

The project is now expanding to other locations in Scotland.

Someone is planting flowers

Derbyshire will be the first UK region to participate in the trial

Sarah Walker, nature and wellness project manager at RSPB England, said: “I am excited to see the project come to life on High Peak and look forward to seeing how people in the region can benefit from it.”

Dr Miller said: “Making sure we take care of our health and well-being is incredibly important, especially in January when life can be a real struggle, as days can be short and money tight.

“The evidence is emerging that spending time outdoors is good for our health, and it’s an ingenious, simple and cost-effective way to empower people to do just that.”

A man on a mobility scooter

It is hoped that the trial will be extended to other parts of the UK.

Jess McFall, social prescribing manager at High Peak Community and Voluntary Support, said: “Being the first region in the UK to be included in Nature Prescriptions is exciting and inspiring.

“We’ve been really impressed with the materials and look forward to connecting our customers with nature and seeing firsthand the impact it has on members of our community.”

Peak District National Park ranger Jo Hanney said: “We have decades of experience connecting people with nature in Peak District National Park, but the RSPB Nature Recipe is a new way to work for us.

We will be able to reach a much wider and more diverse audience by connecting people to the National Park with the recipe,” he said.

It is hoped that the trial will be extended in the future to include across the UK and to other healthcare professionals.

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