Un­usual things that doc­tors now pre­scribe

Daily Mail - - Good Health -

THIS week: Gar­den­ing AT LEAST four ar­eas of the coun­try, in­clud­ing Ham­mer­smith and Brom­ley by Bow in Lon­don and Rother­ham, South York­shire, are run­ning GP-re­ferred gar­den­ing schemes aim­ing to help, among oth­ers, el­derly pa­tients who feel iso­lated, long-term car­ers and those with men­tal health prob­lems. Pa­tients, who are se­lected be­cause they don’t have their own green space, visit a char­ity-funded gar­den once or twice a week for three to four months to help them stay ac­tive and feel con­nected to some­thing as they tend the plants. GPs and re­searchers in­volved in the schemes say the ben­e­fits can be huge. ‘In Rother­ham, £600,000 was given to 30 char­i­ties of­fer­ing com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives, in­clud­ing gar­den­ing,’ says Pro­fes­sor Jeremy Levy, clin­i­cal lead at Health Ed­u­ca­tion North West Lon­don NHS Trust, who stud­ies the schemes. ‘About 1,300 pa­tients at­tended and the re­sult­ing fall in us­age of the NHS was 20 per cent fewer A&E vis­its, 20 per cent fewer GP ap­point­ments and 21 per cent fewer out­pa­tient ap­point­ments. Within the first year, the es­ti­mated sav­ing to the NHS was £552,000.’

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