Realising Realistic Medicine

Chief Medical Officer’s annual report.

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer has published her second annual report: Realising Realistic Medicine.

It builds on Dr Catherine Calderwood’s first annual report on Realistic Medicine – setting out its vision and priorities; showcasing international and national multi-professional support from clinicians, leaders from medicine and public health and stakeholders from a wide group of organisations; and outlining her plans for engagement with patients and the wider public during 2017.

It also contains a traditional snapshot of the Health of the Nation.

Launching the report at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Dr Calderwood said:

“I’m delighted to be publishing my second annual report as Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer.

“When I published my first annual report, I couldn’t have anticipated that it would ignite such a broad and enthusiastic discussion around the six key questions I asked about Realistic Medicine.

“These conversations have been of enormous benefit in helping to shape thinking as we embark on translating the Realistic Medicine philosophy into actions that justify that interest and enthusiasm.

“Realistic Medicine has been embraced not only by doctors, to whom it was originally aimed, but by a wider group of health and care professionals and stakeholders. On social media, #realisticmedicine has so far reached nearly ten million Twitter feeds around the globe and the reception during our engagement around Scotland and beyond in 2016 was universally positive. 

“I know the health and care workforce at all levels have been putting into practice Realistic Medicine for many years and I hope the practical examples and shared learning from around Scotland showcase the hard work already underway.

“Realistic Medicine puts the person receiving health and care at the centre of decision-making and creates a personalised approach to their care. Its aim of reducing harm and waste and simplifying care while managing risks and innovating to improve are essential to a well-functioning and sustainable NHS.”


A hard copy Plain English leaflet is also available.

Additional quotes

Dr Peter Bennie, chair of BMA Scotland said:

“As doctors we want to provide the best possible care for our patients and support them to make informed decisions about their health care and treatment.  It is important that the public understand their role within this and we welcome the CMO’s commitment to help the wider public engage with Realistic Medicine and understand what it will mean for them.   

“Doctors want and expect to be innovators and leaders in improving outcomes for patients, however to do this well we need time to learn, teach and reflect.  It is good to see that the CMO recognises the need for innovation within the NHS but with the ever increasing demand and high levels of long term vacancies, the BMA now regularly hears from doctors that they do not have the necessary time to do this. 

“We need to have an honest and open debate with the public and politicians about what the NHS can realistically provide.   We look forward to further discussions with the CMO on many of the ideas discussed in her latest report, and to hearing more detail on the plans for the development and use of a national atlas of variation and a single national formulary.”

Ian Welsh OBE, Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) said:

“We welcome Realising Realistic Medicine’s aspiration that people accessing support and services are at the heart of decision making and experience a personalised approach to their care. The ALLIANCE’s output on our partnership Self Management, Our Voice, House of Care and National Links Worker programmes are helping translate the concept into action. It is more crucial now that people who access health and social care are engaged as equal partners in this process alongside Scotland’s clinical and care professionals. We therefore look forward to working with the Chief Medical Officer and the Scottish Health Council to engage with the public to help establish what realistic medicine means to them.”

Professor Derek Bell, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said:

“We welcome the continued focus on realistic medicine in Dr Calderwood’s annual report, which has been central to many discussions over the past year. Today’s report provides further information on the support and conditions required to successfully realise this vision for healthcare professionals and patients.

“Issues such as the overuse of clinical treatments, interventions and antibiotics remain high on the College agenda. Patients also need to be treated in the right place at the right time.

“The report also provides summary information on the health of the nation, which confirms that obesity, physical inactivity and alcohol-related harm remain as key public health challenges, which the College is committed to tackling.”

Richard Norris, Director of the Scottish Health Council, said:

“We welcome the publication today of the report ‘Realising Realistic Medicine’. The Scottish Health Council is delighted to be supporting the ambitions of Realistic Medicine, and we’re pleased to be working with the ALLIANCE, through Our Voice, to help identify what Realistic Medicine means to people. We agree that it’s important to gain a true understanding of what the concepts described in Realistic Medicine mean for those accessing health and care services, and we look forward to helping to realise this ambition.”


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