Strengthening relationships with patients

Call to involve people in their care options.

The country’s most senior clinician is encouraging patients to get more involved in their treatment and care options.

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Catherine Calderwood is calling for a move away from the “doctor knows best” culture in her annual Practising Realistic Medicine report, which sets out steps to help patients get more involved in their medical consultations.

Currently four health boards across the country are highlighting five key questions to help patients to get the most out of conversations with their doctor or nurse, with the CMO calling on others to now follow suit.

The report also provides an update on the CMO’s National Atlas of Variation for Health and Health Care. The online publication will go live in June this year and will help patients inform themselves before they discuss treatment options with their doctor.

Speaking at the launch of her report at Airdrie Community Health Practice, Dr Calderwood said:

“We want to ensure patients receive care and treatment that’s right for them. I want to see a change in culture to one where both professionals and people receiving care combine their expertise and become more comfortable in sharing decision making.

“That’s why the five questions feature in my report - because they offer a simple and straightforward way to have better conversations between doctors patients and their families.

“One of the ways in which we can bring realistic medicine into practice is by addressing the harm and waste caused by over-provision and over-treatment. By freeing up resources which are currently being used to no clinical benefit, we will be able to re-invest in healthcare that provides better value to patients.

“That’s why we will shortly publish the beginnings of a publically-accessible National Atlas of Variation for Health and Healthcare.

“There have been times when I’ve realised that I have privileged access to information about my care simply because of my own medical training. I hope that patients will be able to use Atlas data to discuss their options with their doctors and avoid the potential harm caused by unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures.

“I very much hope that the Atlas will help to inspire health and care professionals to discuss why variation in healthcare exists and ensure that everyone in Scotland receives care that is right for them.”


Practising Realistic Medicine

The five questions being piloted by patients across NHS Borders, Forth Valley and Dumfries and Galloway and Lanarkshire are:

  • Is this test, treatment or procedure really needed?
  • What are the potential benefits and risks?
  • What are the possible side effects?
  • Are their safer, simpler or alternative options?
  • What would happen if I did nothing?


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