Reflections on being a Government Professional Adviser

Reflections on being a Government Professional Adviser

19th November 2020

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Sometimes in life an interesting door opens and you just have to walk through it. That's what happened to me in September 2018. I had just retired from over 35 years of working in the National Health Service when a job was advertised by the Scottish Government for a Professional Adviser, to sit in the Government's Diet & Healthy Weight team and lead on implementing the then new A Healthier Future: Type 2 diabetes early prevention, early detection and intervention framework. The opportunity seemed too good to miss so I applied, was successful and became one half of a job share partnership. On the 1st November 2020 I stepped down from that role having completed my contracted 23 months. This blog is my reflection on those 2 years I spent working as a Professional Adviser for the Scottish Government.

It certainly was exciting and rewarding to take forward the implementation of this new Framework on a national level. Partnership and team working was very important - first as this was a job share but also to ensure that the all those involved within Government were delivering the same message. Until the arrival of COVID-19 and lockdown in March 2020, I usually travelled in to St Andrew's House, Edinburgh once a week. I greatly enjoyed my working trips to the north of Scotland, such as meetings at Loch Fyne, and to the three Scottish Island Boards of Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles.

A significant part of this role was to work closely with the Scottish Health Boards and ensure that they were working towards implementing the Framework and spending their budget appropriately, help problem solve with them any challenges and foster communication of good practice across Scotland.  Improving access to and delivery of weight management services was important for the Framework and having an expert knowledge in this area was crucial. For this year we implemented national milestones to help monitor that the Framework was being delivered consistently across Scotland. There is really great constructive and innovative work on this happening across Scotland. On the 30th September I chaired the third national meeting on the Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Framework and it was a super day with contributions from across Scotland including from people who had benefited from the services. 

It was great to work with partners from outside Government, in particular Diabetes Scotland but also My diabetes My way, Sci-diabetes, Public Health Scotland, Community Pharmacy and those in Primary Care. I even had the opportunity to input into policy around improving child health weight services in Scotland. Looking back the achievements I am most proud of are -

  • supporting the implementation of the type 2 diabetes weight management remission programme to the four corners of Scotland
  • organising two of the national conferences to bringing together and share the work from all the Boards
  • overseeing the commissioning of pilots into community testing for HbA1c in three areas of Scotland.


The parts that gave me the biggest headaches are definitely budget discussions and working towards a national data set for weight management. 

I never expected to do this work but I am very pleased to have had the opportunity and the experience. I am certainly proud as a registered dietitian to have used my expertise in helping to progress such an important agenda in Scotland. Thanks to everyone I worked with over the two years in the Scottish Government, Public Health Scotland, Diabetes Scotland, the Health Boards and of course to Alison Diamond - my job share now in sunny climes. 

Laura Stewart

November 2020