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Realistic medicine

In 2017 the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Dr. Catherine Calderwood, published her second annual report titled Realistic Medicine. This set out the NHS' vision for introducing the realistic medicine concept and how it will make sure that by 2025 anyone providing healthcare in Scotland will take a realistic medicine approach.

What is realistic medicine?

Realistic medicine puts the person receiving health and social care at the centre of decisions made about their care. It encourages health and care workers to find out what matters most to you so that the care of your condition fits your needs and situation. Realistic medicine recognises that a one size fits all approach to health and social care is not the most effective path for the patient or the NHS.

Realistic medicine is not just about doctors. ‘Medicine’ includes all professionals who use their skills and knowledge to help people maintain health and to prevent and treat illness. This includes professions such as nursing, pharmacy, counsellors, physios and social work.

How does it affect me?

Realistic medicine encourages shared decision making about your care and is about moving away from a "doctor knows best" culture. This means your doctor or health professional should understand what matters to you personally and what your goals are. You are encouraged to ask questions about your condition and the possible care offered.

Your health professional should explain to you the possible treatments available and the benefits and risks of these procedures. They should also discuss the option of doing nothing and what effects this could have. You should expect to be given enough information and time to make up your mind.

You should think about anything suggested by your health or social care team, whether it be a treatment, consultation or diagnostic investigation, and be prepared to challenge it as an option if you feel it is appropriate. You might like to ask:

  • Is this test, treatment or procedure really needed?
  • What are the benefits and what are the downsides?
  • What are the possible side-effects?
  • Are there simpler or safer options?
  • What would happen if I did nothing?

Why do we need realistic medicine?

Realistic medicine will help to improve the NHS and the care and treatment it offers by:

  • sharing decision making between health professionals and patients
  • providing a personalised approach to care
  • reducing harmful and wasteful care
  • collaborative work between health professionals to avoid duplication and provide a joined up care package that better meets your needs and wishes

If you would like to know more about realistic medicine you can read the full annual report or you can contact the Chief Medical Officer via email on cmo@gov.scot.

 

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