Realistic Medicine

Realistic Medicine puts you at the centre of decisions made about your care. It encourages your healthcare professionals to:

  • find out what matters most to you
  • treat you as an equal partner
  • share decisions about your treatment options so that you're supported to make an informed choice about what’s right for you.

Realistic Medicine recognises that a one size fits all approach to health and social care is not the most effective path for you or the NHS.

Realistic Medicine isn't just about doctors. ‘Medicine’ includes all healthcare professionals who use their skills and knowledge to help people maintain health and to prevent and treat illness. This includes professions like nursing, pharmacy, counselling, physiotherapists and social work.

How does Realistic Medicine affect me?

Realistic Medicine encourages shared decision making about your care. It's also about moving away from a "doctor knows best" culture. This means your doctor or health professional should understand what matters to you personally and what your goals are.

We encourage you to ask questions about your condition and your treatment and care options. It’s ok for you to ask your healthcare professionals the BRAN questions:

  • What are the Benefits?
  • What are the Risks?
  • What are the Alternatives?
  • What would happen if I did Nothing?

Your health professional should explain to you the benefits and risks of your available options. They should also discuss the option of doing nothing and what effects this could have. You should expect to be given enough information and time to make up your mind.

By asking these questions you will be able to make an informed choice about the treatment and care that’s right for you.

Why do we need Realistic Medicine?

Realistic Medicine will help to improve the NHS and the care and treatment it offers by:

  • sharing decisions about your treatment and care with you
  • providing a personalised approach to care
  • reducing harmful and wasteful care

By practising Realistic Medicine we can provide care that people really value. We can also help to deliver a more sustainable health and care system.

Further information

If you would like to know more about Realistic Medicine, please visit the Realistic Medicine website.

If you have any questions, you can write to You can also contact the Chief Medical Officer by email at

Last updated:
01 December 2022