Chief medical officer urges people to take control of healthcare

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer is urging people to take personal control of their healthcare while seeking open and honest answers from doctors using “non-medical language”.

Healthcare professionals have been asked to deliver a more personalised approach

Dr Catherine Calderwood is encouraging healthcare professionals to deliver a more personalised approach to care in her fourth annual report - Personalising Realistic Medicine.

This builds on her previous reports and includes findings from a survey of nearly 2,500 health professionals about Realistic Medicine. It also includes recommendations from the Citizens’ Jury on Shared Decision Making, which was developed to support people and their families to engage at every level in health and social care.

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The report outlines the need to reduce harm, waste and unwarranted variation in care across health boards. It also illustrates examples of good practice from across Scotland with contributions from world-leading experts in person-centred care.

Dr Calderwood said: “I feel people should be able to ask questions of medical professional and take control of their healthcare - feeling able to interact. They need open and honest answers in non-medical language. I’ve written to my own pregnant women patients for around 15 years instead of writing to the doctor I write to the women. They’re then able to produce the letter that you sent and they absolutely love it.

“It also forces us to change our language which is often very technical. You know you’re writing to a person without a medical degree and it actually makes things clearer for everybody.”

She added: “We must be sure we deliver the right care to the right people at the right time in the right place. Put simply, we must deliver better value care.”

Professor Derek Bell OBE, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said this was the fourth year in a row, the Chief Medical Officer’s annual report focused on realistic medicine.

He said: “We commend the great work the Chief Medical Officer and her team have put into realistic medicine, which takes the conversation in the right direction in terms of how we tackle waste and inefficiency in Scotland’s healthcare system, while empowering patient choice.

“At a time when the NHS is under increasing pressure, we would all benefit from clear outcome measurements that would help to demonstrate the changes in practice that we all want to see.”