Medical professionals in Tayside believe a leadership overhaul which has seen clinicians and patients take a more central role in shaping services could inspire other health boards across Scotland.
NHS Tayside unveiled the Transforming Tayside initiative, which has seen senior doctors and nurses, rather than managers, redesign treatment to better serve the needs of their patients.
The scheme has been welcomed by medical staff, who argue the increased complexity of their work means services cannot be delivered in the same way as in previous decades.
Shobhan Thakore, an emergency medicine consultant and NHS Tayside’s clinical lead for realistic medicine, praised the initiative for taking advantage of in-house expertise.
He said: “It’s called Transforming Tayside, not Tinkering Tayside so there has to be something transformational within all of this.
“That has to be a different way of engaging with staff and patients so that we’re actually looking for the solutions to these pretty difficult problems at the front line where it’s all happening, where people know most about what needs to be improved.
“That’s the kind of shift that is beginning to happen and we have some examples of work that’s been done that has very much pushed that decision making down to front line staff, and that’s actually made some big system impacts as well.
“It’s nice to see that is the direction for Transforming Tayside, that we are devolving responsibility and trusting our teams but then we need to support them with the right structures as well.”
Dr Thakore said the health board’s work in areas such as social prescribing, which looks at alternatives to medicines and solely reactive treatment, has the potential to “get traction and start to go forwards” across Scotland.
NHS Tayside recently welcomed a 3.9% reduction in the average spend per head of population on prescriptions, the largest in mainland Scotland and second only to the Western Isles at 4%.
Andrew Radley, a consultant in public health pharmacy and NHS Tayside’s lead on social prescribing, argued health services “rely heavily” on medicines and treating illnesses as they happen but said drugs are only part of the answer.
“Transforming Tayside is about making things better for the people who use our services, and I really mean that,” he said.
“With the leadership that we currently have in place, we are confident that we can actually make a difference and turn things around so Tayside can offer the highest possible quality care.”
A public consultation on Transforming Tayside will take place at Forfar Community Centre on Saturday.