How the Green Prescription works

Here’s how the Green Prescription (GRx) process works for the health professional and patient.

Green prescription diagram illustrating the following steps.

  1. The health professional (usually GP or practice nurse) issues their patient with a Green Prescription (GRx), provided the patient’s medical condition is stable.
  2. The script is either written or issued electronically. If the patient wants ongoing support to increase their physical activity and improve nutrition, the script is forwarded through to the nearest GRx provider.
  3. The GRX Support Person encourages the patient to become more active through:
    • monthly telephone calls for 3-4 months or;
    • face to face meetings for 3-4 months or;
    • group support in a community setting for 3-6 months.
  4. The patient’s progress on their path to a healthier lifestyle is reported back to the referring health professional.
  5. If the patient feels they would benefit from ongoing support, they are encouraged to ask their health professional for another GRx.

To find out more download The Green Prescription Process for Primary Health Care flowchart (PDF, 507 KB)

Not sure what level of exercise is appropriate? Download ‘What Intensity – A Guide to Exercise and Activity Levels’ from the Resources page.

Programme administration

The Green Prescription (GRx) initiative is a health professional's written advice to a patient or their family to encourage and support them becoming more physically active and eat healthier as part of a total health plan. 

The initiative consists of two components: GRx (for adults) and the GRx Active Families programme which aims to increase physical activity for children, young people and their families, and was introduced in 2004.

GRx began in 1998. The initiative was transferred from Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) in 2009 to the Ministry of Health with the expectation in future that funding would be more closely aligned with other services helping manage long term conditions.

Most referrals for GRx are to support prevention and management in patients with chronic disease and long term conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In particular, GRx encourage patients to manage their own conditions by increasing physical activity and improving nutrition.

Core GRx funding of $3.784 million was transferred from SPARC to the Ministry with additional one-off funding of $1.6 million which ended in July 2012.

In May 2013 an additional $7.2 million, over the next four years, was allocated to the GRx budget to increase adult referrals, particularly for patients with pre-diabetes or diabetes. 

On 1 July 2012 the Ministry devolved GRx funding and management to district health boards (DHBs) to enable better co-ordination of initiatives at a regional level and fit with plans for better integration of health services. The Ministry supports the initiative with advice, resources and bi annual surveys.

In 2017 the Ministry allocated $2.1 million to 10 DHBs to provide B4SC Active Families programmes.   These provide nutrition advice and activities for obese 4 year olds referred from before school checks. 

Some DHBs and PHOs contribute funding to the initiative to provide more intensive group programme support and strengthen the nutrition component of GRx.

There are currently sixteen providers contracted to deliver the GRx initiative to referred patients and families. Fourteen of these are regional sports trusts, and two are PHOs (Nelson Bays and Marlborough). Providers cover all District Health Boards.

Back to top