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Dundee GPs set to prescribe time in nature to patients

Walkers near the Three Sisters mountain range in the Highlands.
Walkers near the Three Sisters mountain range in the Highlands.

Doctors in Dundee are now able to prescribe spending time in nature to improve patients’ health and wellbeing as part of a pilot scheme.

A trial programme of “green health prescriptions” was launched on Friday and will be available from Lochee Health Centre, Whitfield Health Centre and Taybank Medical Centre.

The three Dundee GP practices will discuss with patients if it is appropriate to offer a nature-based intervention as part of their treatment or as a preventative measure.

The activities have been designed by NHS Tayside and will be printed on prescription paper to resemble a GP prescription.

NHS Tayside Chief Executive Grant Archibald  said: “There is no doubt that there is a strong connection between green space and good mental and physical health.

“Parks, woodlands and open spaces make a real difference to how happy we feel.

“They also improve our immune system and encourage physical activity and social interaction.”

Friday also saw the launch of the Dundee Green Health Partnership (DGHP) at the city’s Botanic Garden.

The DGHP will signpost green initiatives and raise awareness about the positive impact that nature can have on people’s health.

Joe FitzPatrick, Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, made an appearance at the launch event.

He said: “It is great to see Dundee taking the lead on developing new approaches to bringing physical activity and the outdoors together through the Green Health Partnership.

“This project is a fantastic example of partnership working to achieve the same goal of improving the lives of the people of Dundee.”

The project is a collaboration between NHS Tayside, Dundee City Council, the voluntary sector, Dundee University, Abertay University and local community initiatives.

Neighbourhood Services Convener Councillor Kevin Cordell added: “I’m delighted to see a host of key partners in Dundee coming together to with a goal to use our wonderful outdoor spaces to improve the physical and mental health of people across the city.”

Among the first people in Dundee to take part in a nature-based initiative was Daniel Cruickshank.

He said: “I joined a group of people in a Branching Out programme run by the Countryside Rangers, which has been a great benefit for me.

“Branching Out is just one of the many nature-based interventions in Dundee which people can discuss with their doctor or health care professional as part of their care.”

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