NHS Greenspace

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

The Green Exercise Partnership – NatureScot, Scottish Forestry, NHS National Services Scotland and Public 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 the 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 report of the NHS Greenspace Demonstration Project, published by the Green Exercise Partnership in April 2020 and its associated executive summary.

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. Read Good Design of the Outdoor Estate which provides guidance on how good design of NHS greenspace can contribute to health and wellbeing objectives as well as climate change 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.

Going outdoors is not always possible, so Bringing the Outdoors in has been produced to provide healthcare practitioners with ideas for indoor activities that enable the benefits of nature connection, particularly aimed at people experiencing mental ill health.

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, who explain 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
  • Ninewells Hospital
  • Designing communications to encourage use of NHS greenspace


For more information on the NHS Greenspace Demonstration Project contact:

Hugh McNish
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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