“A dose of greenspace could be just what the doctor ordered”

NHS Lothian, Edinburgh & Lothians Health Foundation and greenspace scotland today (Friday 28 June) published Scotland’s first health board-led Green Health Strategy.

Greenspace is often described as ‘our natural health service’, with a growing body of research evidence showing its positive benefits for physical and mental health and wellbeing.

The Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace and Health Strategic Framework was prepared by greenspace scotland, on behalf of NHS Lothian and funded by Edinburgh & Lothians Health Foundation.

The strategy aims to fully realise the potential of the NHS Outdoor Estate and community greenspaces as a community health asset benefiting patients, visitors, staff and communities. It covers a range of Green Health activities, including community and therapeutic gardening, health walks, green prescriptions, Branching Out and Green Gyms, as well as greening the NHS outdoor estate and encouraging access to greenspace close to where people live.

Brian Houston, Chair of Lothian NHS Board, said: “We are increasingly recognising the role and importance of therapeutic interventions in greenspace on our health and wellbeing. For several years, the Edinburgh & Lothians Health Foundation has provided grants to support therapeutic gardening and the development of community gardens at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and Midlothian Community Hospital.

“We have seen the benefits of these projects for patients, staff, visitors and the wider community – and we recognise the potential to achieve much more through a coordinated and strategic approach. The Greenspace and Health Strategic Framework will play a key role in guiding and shaping our work with partners to realise our vision of Longer Lives, Better Lived through our GreenSpace – Lothian’s Natural Health Service.”

Joe FitzPatrick, Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, said: “Greenspaces play a vital part in improving our physical and mental health.  They provide people with many opportunities to be physically active, and to enjoy the benefits of contact with nature – such as going for a walk, taking part in a gardening project, or active play.

“Last year we published a comprehensive Physical Activity Delivery Plan, setting out a wide range of actions to support and encourage people to be more active, more often. I welcome NHS Lothian’s Green Health Strategy as a valuable contribution to that aim.” 

Julie Procter, Chief Executive of greenspace scotland, said: “Studies repeatedly show the positive impact that greenspace can have on our quality of life and particularly on health and wellbeing. Greenspace really is our natural health service: a daily dose of green space could be just what the doctor ordered to keep us active and provide tonic for the soul! We were delighted to work with NHS Lothian and a wide range of partners from across the NHS, local councils, voluntary organisations and community groups to develop a clear vision and plan for how the NHS outdoor estate and local greenspaces can improve the health and wellbeing of people across the Lothians.”

The Strategic Framework sets out a Vision of Longer lives, better lived through our GreenSpace – Lothian’s ‘natural health service’, underpinned by a delivery programme with clear priorities for action.

The Edinburgh & Lothian Health Foundation has provided grants to Cyrenians, TCV and Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust to support early action on new green prescribing schemes, the development of community gardens and active green travel routes.

More info and links to the Strategic Framework and supporting annexes

October 2019 UPDATE: Green Health Programme Manager is now in post
Want to know more about Green Health or get involved in supporting delivery of the Lothians Green Health Strategy? Get in touch with Ian Mackenzie, Green Health Programme Manager (Lothians) email