National Gardens Scheme report pushes health agenda

An independent report, Gardens and Health, commissioned by the National Gardens Scheme, calls on policymakers, the NHS, clinicians and local government to recognise and do more to promote the importance of gardens and gardening in improving health outcomes.

Jane Ellison
Jane Ellison

Health minister Jane Ellison said it was "intuitively true that gardening is good for us".

She said the same level of scientific evidence does not apply to gardening and health research as to clinical research because gardening is "self-evidently a good thing".

Ellison said local public health commissioners within local government should commission gardening interventions after following "common sense instincts".

She said regeneration, transport and building schemes needed to include a health aspect.

Ellison said the prevention agenda meant long-term benefits of gardening and open space prescriptions were needed.

Report athor David Buck said gardening gave a "sense of solace" to mental health patients and others and agreed with Ellison that the level of evidence of gardening's good for health need not be as high as for a cancer drug, for instance.

Sir Sam Everington advocated "social prescribing" using his role at Tower Hamlets chair of NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group as an example of the method. He said he had granted £240,000 for social prescribing in the borough.

Public Health England's Justin Varley said gardening was seen as middle-class and that needed to be addressed.

Sir Richard Thompson said Public Health England needed to advise GPs to prescribe gardening.

National Gardens Scheme chief executive George Plumptre said the benefits of gardens for health lacked coordination but the report would help and he hoped to see gardening prescribed as often as pills in the future.

See more in HW next issue.

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