Following the news that GP’s in the UK were going to start ‘prescribing’ parkrun and a more active lifestyle to patients, GP’s across the Shetland Islands will now start prescribing birdwatching, rambling and beach walks to help treat chronic and debilitating illnesses.
Patients suffering with mental health illnesses, diabetes, heart disease, stress and other conditions may now be issued a ‘nature prescription’ by their GP. These will include a calendar and list of walks drawn up by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, showing them particular birds and plans to spot, and routes to take.
Other ‘nature prescriptions’ include hill walking on Shetland’s moors, and following costal paths to watch fulmars. Of course, these will not replace conventional medicine, but will supplement normal treatments.
Dr Chloe Evans, a GP who piloted the programme told The Guardian: “There are millions of different ways of doing medicine but we very much try to involve people in their own health, and people really like being empowered.
“People are always thinking at some level about their diet or exercise or stopping smoking but finding out what works for them is the key. The beauty about Shetland is it has this fantastic wild landscape.”
Helen Moncrieff, the area manager for RSPB Scotland added: “We would like this to be picked up by other areas or health boards. There is so much evidence that nature is good for us, and this is a simple way to get people outdoors and experiencing nature in a city or wilder place like Shetland.”
Also in the news this week: