Living Realistically: Incorporating Realistic Medicine into Health and Care

A conference to explore the challenges and opportunities of the Scottish Government Chief Medical Officer’s ‘Realistic Medicine’ concept was held in Dundee.
Realistic Medicine is a concept which puts the person receiving healthcare at the centre of decisions about their care. It encourages health and care workers to find out what matters to the person so that their care matches their needs.

Clinical and care staff, academics, patient representatives and members of the public from across Tayside and beyond attended the event at the University of Dundee. 
NHS Tayside Chief Executive Grant Archibald and Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Realistic Medicine Lead Dr Shobhan Thakore welcomed attendees to the conference. 

A number of speakers, including Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the Scottish Government Gregor Smith, medical professionals and public and patient representatives then gave short presentations about the Realistic Medicine agenda and the different perspectives and work ongoing in Tayside.

The afternoon session included four short workshops looking at the themes of shared decision making in prescribing, managing the risk of complaint when practicing realistic medicine, effective engagement with patients, carers and the public, and supporting individuals as the end of life draws near.

Grant Archibald, Chief Executive at NHS Tayside, welcomed attendees saying, “Realistic Medicine is a key component of our Transforming Tayside programme which aims to redesign services across the region to meet the challenges we face.

“Realistic Medicine has huge potential for us to do things differently in Tayside and put us at the vanguard of exciting change.

“I would like to thank everyone for coming along today to hear about this important agenda and thank the team involved in organising this event with such energy and commitment.”

Dr Thakore said, “The delivery of care has become more and more complex in recent years as people live longer and advances in medicine lead to more treatments being offered. Many people now take multiple medicines and are offered various procedures so we need to be careful that they want these, understand what the benefit might be and most importantly appreciate the complication that might occur. 

“Clinical staff and the public need to have more open conversations and time needs to be provided to let this happen. Properly sharing and agreeing decisions about treatment should lead to better care, less wastage and less harm.

“There needs to be a wider conversation about Realistic Medicine in Tayside and this conference was a very important first step in bringing this subject out to a wider audience. Many inspiring speakers gave examples of why we need to change our style of care and there were also many examples of really dedicated staff and public partners beginning to make this change. 

“The aim is to build on this enthusiasm and take forward more projects to help us realise the aim of the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland as described in Realistic Medicine.”