People living near parks starved of funding by cash-strapped councils should pay higher taxes to maintain their upkeep, a think-tank recommended today.
The NHS should be given the power and funding to maintain and even create new parks ‘as a tool of healthcare’, the report by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) also suggested.
While more people are able to use public parks as Covid-19 lockdown measures ease, the SMF study found that the 27,000 urban green spaces in the UK are often poorly maintained.
Many councils have cut maintenance spending and rely on community groups and National Lottery funding for the upkeep of public parks.
Similar schemes that see homeowners pay a levy to look after green spaces have been introduced in US cities such as Seattle – where owners of homes worth $500,000 (£410,000) each pay $7 (£6) a month to help fund parks, trails and recreational activities.
People living near parks starved of funding by cash-strapped councils should pay higher taxes to maintain their upkeep, a think-tank recommended. (Above, people in Finsbury Park, north London yesterday)
While more people are able to use public parks as Covid-19 lockdown measures ease, the SMF study found that the 27,000 urban green spaces in the UK are often poorly maintained. (Above, Finsbury Park yesterday)
Meanwhile, the NHS’s role in maintaining parks and green spaces should be seen as a tool of healthcare in the same way as medicines and therapies, the SMF said.
The report suggests that NHS bodies should be able to take part in bidding for any additional parks funding offered by central government, perhaps in partnership with local authorities.
The NHS should be given the power and funding to maintain and even create new parks ‘as a tool of healthcare’, the report by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) also suggested. (Pictured, Golders Hill Park in north-west London)
Even though parks have been neglected under austerity, health professionals have begun to see greater value in using green spaces to relieve pressure on the NHS. (Pictured, a woman relaxing in Central Park, Plymouth, on Saturday)
Giving the NHS a role in supporting the spaces would allow doctors to make more use of ‘social prescribing’ techniques – where patients are told to take exercise and spend time outdoors to boost physical and mental health.
Obesity may double risk of needing hospital treatment for Covid-19
Being obese may double the risk of needing hospital treatment for the coronavirus, according to a major study.
British scientists trawled through data for more than 428,000 people who were part of the UK Biobank.
Some 340 of those tested positive for COVID-19 in hospital – one of the only places to access a test in the UK – amid the pandemic.
Being overweight or obese increased the risk of ending up in hospital with the killer infection by 1.6-fold and 2.3-fold, respectively.
And for every BMI increase of four-and-a-half units, the risk of dying from COVID-19 rose by about 25 per cent, Glasgow University experts said.
Obesity leads to conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, both of which are known to make patients more vulnerable to COVID-19.
International evidence and NHS pilots have shown that using parks as a healthcare resource can improve outcomes for patients and significantly reduce demands on GP surgeries.
The coronavirus lockdown has sparked new debates about access to green space.
One in eight UK households has no garden, rising to one in five in London, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Even though parks have been neglected under austerity, health professionals have begun to see greater value in using green spaces to relieve pressure on the NHS.
Some Clinical Commissioning Groups have started using parks to support patients with anxiety and depression whose frequent GP appointments place significant burdens on surgeries.
One scheme in Liverpool involved setting up a park walking club for patients who made frequent use of GP services for non-clinical needs.
The result was a significant reduction in the group’s use of GP services, freeing up resources for others.
In New Zealand, doctors have issued ‘green prescriptions’ since 1998 – and 60 per cent of the patients involved became more active, according to a survey.
In 2018/19, the Social Market Foundation received financial support for its work from various charities, trusts, companies and other organisations including Age UK, Alzheimers Society, Barclays Bank, the Peabody Trust and the Greater London Authority.
The full list can be found here: http://www.smf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Social-Market-Foundation-Funding-2018-2019.pdf