Doctors in Derbyshire are set to become the first in England to trial ‘Nature Prescriptions’ to improve patient wellbeing.

The trial prescriptions are part of a project led by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Peak District National Park Authority, which has already been piloted in Scotland.

According to the RSPB the pilot was successful, with over 74% of patients saying they benefitted from their prescription and 87% of people saying that they would continue to use nature to support their health and wellbeing.

The project is now expanding to other locations in Scotland. 

Nature Prescriptions

A Nature Prescription, according to the RSPB, is a free-to-use non-medical approach based on accessible, self-led activities that people can do from home, on their own or with others.

“Nature Prescriptions are a great way for people to potentially boost their wellbeing by taking time to be with nature,” said Tom Miller, a GP in Buxton, Derbyshire.

“Evidence is emerging that time outdoors is good for our health and this is an ingenious, simple and cost-effective way to support people to do just that.” 

The prescriptions can be offered by trained healthcare professions and include a leaflet and calendar of ideas, from listening to the sounds of nature from your window to searching for early morning frost on leaves.

A sample of the Shetlands calendar via RSPB

The two social prescribing services in the High Peak area which are involved in the trial together 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.

Jess McFall, social prescribing manager at High Peak Community and Voluntary Support, said: “To be the first area in England involved in Nature Prescriptions is exciting and inspiring.

“We’ve been really impressed with the materials and are eagerly looking forward to connecting our clients to nature and seeing the impact this may have on members of our community first hand.

“What’s even more special is that the suggestions in the calendar have been carefully curated to make them specific to the places, spaces and environments we all love in the High Peak.” 

“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,” added Sarah Walker, nature and wellbeing project manager at the RSPB England.