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Volunteers at the Cyrenians Community Garden at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

NHS Greenspace

Making the most of the NHS outdoors estate for health and well-being.

The Green Exercise Partnership – Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Forestry (formerly Forestry Commission Scotland), NHS National Services Scotland and NHS Health Scotland – coordinates the NHS Greenspace Demonstration Project. The aims of the project are:

  • to improve the quality and accessibility of greenspace on a range of demonstration sites
  • to encourage more use of greenspace by patients, staff, visitors and members of the local community

Greenspace improvements

Improving provision of greenspace planned for new facilities or retrofitting better quality greenspace in existing settings was part of the first phase of the project. Demonstration sites include a range of healthcare settings – from community healthcare centres to large campus hospital sites.

Read Unlocking the Potential of NHS Greenspace for Health and Wellbeing, the executive summary of the NHS Greenspace Demonstration Project, published by the Green Exercise Partnership, September 2019.

The project currently focuses on encouraging all health boards to mainstream better provision, management and use of NHS greenspace into policy and practice.

By adopting updated planning, design and management principles, the NHS outdoors estate can support health and well-being. It will also help meet other NHS policies such as sustainability and biodiversity.

Connecting people with NHS greenspace

We have helped to set up four NHS Greenspace for Health Partnerships. These pilots showcase how to work with hospital staff and local organisations to encourage more people to use NHS greenspace. Activity programmes include health walks, community garden projects and environmental conservation work.

Three projects are being run by TCV at:

  • New Craigs Hospital – NHS Highland
  • Gartnavel Hospital – NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • Ayr and Ailsa Hospitals – NHS Ayrshire and Arran

Another project is being run by the Cyrenians at Royal Edinburgh Hospital and Midlothian Community Hospital – NHS Lothian.

Films and Talking Heads

With our Green Exercise Partnership colleagues, we have produced short films and Talking Heads to promote the benefits that greenspace can have for patients, staff, visitors and the local community at NHS sites:

Short video introducing the work of NHS Greenspace


Exercising in nature: activities such as walking and gardening have been shown to deliver multiple benefits for health and wellbeing. In this short video NHS Greenspace explains what they are doing to ensure green spaces are an integral part of all health care facilities in Scotland.


Talking Heads

Approx. 2–3 minutes each:

Project case studies

The Partnership has also published case studies for a number of NHS Greenspace Demonstration sites:

  • Ayr and Ailsa Hospitals
  • Forth Valley Royal Hospital
  • Gartnavel Hospitals
  • Possilpark Health and Care Centre
  • Woodside and Maryhill Health and Care Centres
  • New Craigs Hospital
  • Royal Edinburgh Hospital
  • Designing communications to encourage use of NHS greenspace


For more information on the NHS Greenspace Demonstration Project 2018/19 contact:

Kevin Lafferty
Email: [email protected]

Anne Lumb
Email: [email protected]

Find out more

Ayr and Ailsa Hospitals – research report of stakeholder interviews
Royal Edinburgh Hospital - research report of stakeholder interviews
Innovative NHS Greenspace in Scotland
Managing Access on the NHS estate
Biodiversity and the NHS Estate

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