Harefield hospital prioritises staff and patient wellbeing

Harefield Hospital in Middlesex has officially opened four new gardens for patients and staff to use to help improve their mental and physical wellbeing.

The gardens were created by patients, relatives and staff, with the help of volunteers, artists and generous funders, and have been designed to be accessible to all patients, with smooth surfaces to allow for easy access of patients on beds or chairs. Known as the Rowan Garden, the Healing Garden, the Peace Garden and the ITU garden, these new outdoor spaces are key assets to enhance the patient and staff experience, improve wellbeing through access to nature, and form part of the hospital’s sustainability drive and the NHS’s target to become carbon-neutral by 2045.

Staff will be encouraged to make use of the gardens on their breaks and many patients will be able to see the gardens from their window if they are not able to get outside. Research has shown that just 20 minutes of contact with nature can lower stress hormone levels.1 The gardens will also help to increase biodiversity in the area, and patients and staff can become ‘Green Champions’ by helping to monitor the levels of biodiversity in the gardens as well as volunteer to help maintain them. People will be encouraged to download the free app, iNaturalist, to record and learn about the animals and plants found in the gardens, and in the summer months, grass will be mowed less often to help nature recover from the ongoing ecological loss.

Karen Janody, rb&hArts manager who helped fund and design the gardens, said: “We wanted to enhance the biodiversity at Harefield, as well as give everyone a space outdoors to enjoy and connect with nature. Green spaces have physical and mental health benefits, and we hope everyone will be able to watch the gardens grow, enjoy improved air quality and the chance to relax outdoors for many years to come.

“Harefield has a great history of patients spending time outside for rehabilitation and therapy, and these projects can be part of that legacy.”

Helena Day, clinical nurse specialist in blood transfusions, has volunteered in the gardens. She said: “I am very glad I signed up as I really enjoyed myself. As I am largely office based, I liked the physical activity and enjoyed being in the fresh air in the middle of the day. It was a good break from looking at my computer screen. I took pride in making a small improvement to our grounds.”

Occupational therapist, Jennifer Sly, attended a gardening workshop. She said: “Our busy caseload often means we are not able to explore the grounds in working hours or find out what patients have access to. The space is lovely – tranquil and full of colour, with a good variety of planting to attract the eye. It was nice to take time out and appreciate our surroundings and take part in a selection of mindful tasks during the workshop.”

After World War I, Harefield Hospital was used as a sanatorium (a hospital specifically for the treatment of tuberculosis) and as the only treatment in the early 20th century for tuberculosis was sunshine and fresh air, the hospital has a long history of making use of its outdoor space for patient benefit.


For more information, or for media enquiries, please contact Maxine Lenza, senior media relations officer at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals on 07891 310924 or M.Lenza@rbht.nhs.uk

Notes to editors


  1. https://blog.frontiersin.org/2019/04/09/20-minute-nature-pill-relieves-stress/

Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals
Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals make up the largest specialist heart and lung centre in the UK. The hospitals, part of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, have an international reputation for the expertise of their staff, high standard of care, and research success. Experts at the hospitals help patients from all age groups who have heart and lung problems and provide some of the most complex surgery and sophisticated treatments available anywhere in the world. For further information, visit https://www.rbht.nhs.uk/

The Harefield gardens have been delivered thanks to the generosity and practical help from many individuals and organisations. They have been funded by donations from former patients, families and friends of patients, the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charities, Harefield Hospital, Harefield Transplant Club, the Mayor of London Greener City Fund, the National Lottery Community Fund, HS2 Community and Environment Fund (CEF), the Heathrow Community Trust, and local businesses Clancy and Artemis tree surgeons. The Peace Gardens were delivered in partnership with Groundwork London and the Healing Garden was created by patients’ relatives Rosie Pope OBE and Catherine Perry.