A GP surgery in Bideford is hoping to get patients green-fingered to help boost their wellbeing.

Wooda Surgery has teamed up with Bideford Sustainability Group, which has transformed some disused land off the Tarka Trail at Bideford station into an allotment.

The surgery’s plot on the allotment is designed to be a green space specifically for patients to learn about growing produce and eating healthily, boost mental health and combat social isolation.

GP trainee Will Bickerton has spearheaded the allotment scheme, and is encouraging patients to come and make use of its benefits.

He said: “It’s a fantastic space. Covid has changed things slightly, but hopefully now we are into summer we can get people more involved.

“Evidence suggests schemes such as this can reduce hospital admissions and A and E attendances.”

It is hoped the plot, which is producing a range of fruit and vegetables from potatoes and marrows to garden peas and tomatoes, will eventually become patient-led.

Not only is the project set to benefit patients, it is one of a series of green initiatives implemented by the surgery.

Wooda Surgery has achieved a silver award in the Green Impact for Health Scheme, which has been developed by the Royal College of General Practitioners and the National Union of Students.

The scheme has a wide range of measures which practices are encouraged to implement, including social prescribing, promoting recycling and recycling inhalers, and recently GPs have been able to cycle to home visits with the addition of a new eco-bike.

Wooda Surgery GP Penny Martin with the new eco bike.Wooda Surgery GP Penny Martin with the new eco bike.

Dr Matt Lee, Green Impact lead at the surgery, said: “It gives us a framework for us to adapt measures. They may be small but if everyone did it there would be a collective benefit.”

“The bicycle has been really useful for medical visits, and it’s powered by the solar panels on the roof of the surgery, which we have had since 2011.

“The allotment is part of a wider scheme supporting social prescribing. This is one place where we can refer to and we have seen quite a few successes.

“We would love see even more participation from our patients.”