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*UPDATED* Hospital visiting changes, home testing kits, Vaccine info, general info and guidance for public, NHSGGC staff, and community-based services.

Info for patients & carers

Let’s all be realistic about the future of medicine

There’s lots of chat in the medical world about Realistic Medicine, but as a patient, do you know what it means?

According to our lead on Realistic Medicine within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Dr Alastair Ireland, one of the biggest implications for patients is around Shared Decision Making.

Dr Ireland’s message is there are two experts in the room – and YOU are one of them.

He said: “We are reminded that there are two experts in every contact between the professions and people we are looking after – one advising on the options and the other having a chance to describe and ask questions about what is right for them.

“We are going to be trying to give information to you in a way which is clearer and less confusing but also gives you more say in which of the options which might work for you, would be more suitable to your own circumstances’”

Message from Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Gregor Smith on ‘BRAN’ questions

"In a health and care conversation, there are two experts, the professional who has technical knowledge and skill, and the person receiving care who is expert in their life and what matters to them. That’s why sharing decisions between professionals and patients is one of the key principles of Realistic Medicine."

"Shared decision making leads to better, more meaningful conversations and better treatment decisions. This not only improves outcomes for individual patients, but we know it also helps us tackle overtreatment. We must further embed shared decision making across Scotland, and view it as a genuinely collaborative approach involving healthcare professionals and patients working together."

"In order for people to reach the right decision for them, they need to be able to weigh up the potential benefits, harms and limitations of the available options. We have therefore included the Choosing Wisely (BRAN) questions, in the Near Me virtual waiting room (from Thursday 18th of February). This will display a box on the screen with the following text:

Make an informed choice about your test and treatment options
Ask your healthcare professionals the BRAN questions:

  • What are the Benefits?
  • What are the Risks?
  • What are the Alternatives?
  • What if I do Nothing?

"Encouraging people to think ‘BRAN’ before their appointment will help them prepare, and be able to actively engage in the conversation."

"As health and care professionals, we need to be able to communicate risk in a way that people can understand. I consider encouraging people to ask these questions during consultations to be a big step forward and expect them to be of real benefit to patients, helping them make an informed choice about the treatment that’s right for them."

Dr Gregor Smith, CMO for Scotland

Right now individual services in NHSGGC are developing more detailed information about the procedures they may be suggesting to enable you to think about what would be right for you, rather than simply what we think. Occasionally not doing anything, despite our offer of treatment, might be right for you at that time and we need to let you feel that you have enough information to choose wisely.

In NHSGGC we are already working on these recommendations.

It's OK to ask

NHS Inform provide a patient information leaflet (pdf) that outlines questions you may want to ask at your next appointment. The leaflet includes a blank space on the back so you can take your own notes.

Audio and British Sign Language (BSL) version

Visit NHS Inform: It's OK to ask website

If you want further information about Realistic Medicine, you can read more at: or contact Alastair Ireland, email [email protected]


Last Updated: 14 May 2021