Reflections on Realistic Medicine following #PublicHealthHour with Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, 7 September 2016

At the start of Dr Catherine Calderwood‘s first annual report as Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, she notes how fitting it is, as a practising obstetrician and gynaecologist, that the report arrived 9 months after taking post. Another 9 months on from its publication “Realistic Medicine” is still in the limelight. It has received widespread praise, including big names from medicine and public health (Dr Ben Goldacre and Sir Muir Gray), and has become shorthand for a different approach to healthcare.

We had originally planned to discuss Realistic Medicine with the Chief Medical Officer for a Public Health Hour in May, but the purdah period before the 2016 Scottish Election put paid to that. In fact the delay worked to our advantage, allowing us to invite a much larger number of participants, to hear reflections on the CMO’s engagement with clinicians and patients around the report, and to include a discussion of Realistic Medicine and Public Health with an expert panel.

You can see the CMO’s slides on Slideshare.

During the panel discussion, as well as taking questions on Realistic Medicine from participants, we:

  • received a succinct masterclass in better value healthcare, screening and population healthcare from Sir Muir Gray, a leading light in UK Public Health, pioneer of screening programmes across the life course and currently director of Better Value Healthcare
  • heard pertinent insights on person centred care and quality improvement from Carol Read from her career as a nurse and more recently as fellow at the NHS England Horizons team. Carol has also demonstrated innovation in developing a skincare range for Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust
  • had a preliminary discussion about the positive “disruptive” potential of mobile phones as a nod to both innovation and engagement.

The NHS England Horizons team, headed by Helen Bevan, was also extremely generous in providing us access to their impressive Webex setup, for which I would like to note huge thanks to Paul Woodley.

The session is documented in more detail below and a full recording of the session is available here. The main message from the session is simple – Public Health has a major contribution to Realistic Medicine, across the 6 main headings of the report.

This blog will be updated to include answers to questions raised through social media and the Webex chat box that we didn’t have time to pose to the panel during the session. Running until 16 September there was also an opportunity to contribute to a Public Health focused platform on Realistic Medicine, kindly provided on a trial basis by Crowdicity, and written up here.

Resources and comments from the chatbox have been added to the end of this blog (on 28 September).

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