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Cardiff doctors become first to prescribe free bike hire to patients

By Tom Walker    10 May 2019

Bicycles will be prescribed on the NHS for the first time as part of a pilot campaign to tackle obesity.

GPs in Cardiff will be able to prescribe free bike hire subscriptions for overweight patients.

The pilot, which is led by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (CVUHB), is the first of its kind in the UK and will start with two GP practices initially.

Patients will be given a six-month membership to Nextbike – a public bike-sharing system which was introduced to the city last year.

As part of the prescription, patients will be given a unique access code which will entitle them to unlimited free 30-minute Nextbike hire sessions.

Dr Tom Porter, consultant in Public Health Medicine with CVUHB and Public Health Wales, said the pilot had the potential to help save lives – and that regular cycling could cut the risk of dying from heart disease by half.

"Cycling is a fantastic form of physical activity and riding your bike is one of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of ill health while building your cardiovascular fitness.

“Not only can cycling to work reduce your risk of death from heart disease by 52 per cent, but it’s also a great way to get around the city without using your car, making it good for both you and the environment around you, and helping to keep the air clean for everyone while reducing carbon emissions.

“It’s recommended that adults are active for at least 150 minutes every week, but many people feel that 150 minutes is simply too difficult to fit into their busy schedules.

"Cycling is not only fun but can also fit into your regular routine, going to work, visiting friends, or nipping to the shops, so you don’t even notice you’re racking up the minutes.

“For the first phase of the pilot we want to make sure the scheme works as intended, and is easy to use for patients and their health professionals, so we’ll be seeking feedback from participants. If the approach proves successful we’ll look at making it more widely available across the City.”

Councillor Susan Elsmore, member of Cardiff City Council's cabinet for health and wellbeing, added: “The city of Cardiff is incredibly fortunate and proud to offer this opportunity to its residents.

"Following Cardiff Council’s continued partnership with Nextbike UK since its installation 12 months ago, the health board has shown both collaborative working and initiative to begin to offer this amazing scheme to people for free on prescription.

"This fundamentally fits both with the central tenets of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and the Social Services and Wellbeing Act, and is another example of how Cardiff’s ambition leads the way, not only in Wales but for the UK.”

Len Richards, CEO of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said the scheme will be delivered in partnership with public bike-sharing system Nextbike
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board  Nextbike  Public Health Medicine 
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