DOCTORS will be able to prescribe country walks and tree-planting to ease the post-Covid burden on the NHS.
It is part of a £4million Government scheme to divert patients from medical interventions towards the great outdoors.
Trials will take place in four yet-to-be-decided areas worst affected by the pandemic and will run for two years.
It will go nationwide if successful.
GPs and other health care providers will be able to offer the prescriptions, which would include patients joining walking and cycling groups.
They could be recommended green gyms — physical exercise classes outdoors — or conservation tasks such as tree-planting in the community.
For more vulnerable groups, local authorities could provide supported visits to green spaces or gardening and other outdoor activities to reduce isolation and loneliness.
The referrals would be used to combat both physical and mental conditions and will start this autumn.
A government source said: “We have seen how during the lockdown people have benefited from the great outdoors.
“This scheme is about capitalising on that, while taking the pressure off NHS services.”
The £4million cost will go towards funding local groups — and could see the Government paying for gardening kit and other outdoor equipment.
Environment Secretary George Eustice is expected to outline the plans.
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