The Gorbals has got a bit of a reputation - infamous, notorious, hard. Just the sort of place for a coach party of senior NHS managers, in fact.

Delegates were given the chance to escape the conference hall and step into the real world, in a tour laid on by Greater Glasgow health board.

And after a briefing from health board chief executive Chris Spry, a coach materialises. All that's missing is the Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack.

Just beyond the former dry docks, a huge egg-shaped building is taking shape, echoing the 'armadillo' - the conference centre on the opposite bank of the Clyde. It is set to be a science centre, with an IMAX cinema on site.

This is the regeneration of Glasgow.

The health board is a partner in many local regeneration projects, the aim being to improve housing and address the poverty associated with ill-health.

The marks of improvement schemes of the past are all around - buildings like the Pearce Institute, 'a Victorian type of community centre' endowed to Govan by a philanthropic shipbuilder, and parks like Elder, established by another shipbuilding family along with Elder Cottage Hospital, Elder clinic and some Elder housing for trainee nurses.

The health board is involved in the Drumoyne partnership, investing in housing security and children's schemes. And behind the Ibrox football stadium - home of Glasgow Rangers - is the Ibrox community sports centre, which the health board helped establish.

'I think we're all very disappointed that it's now been sponsored by McDonald's, ' says health promotion manager Monica Porciani.

But there is a GP exercise referral scheme, in which most Glasgow GPs are now involved, she says.

System-built high-rise blocks of flats in the Gorbals were the brave new improvement scheme that followed the Victorian philanthropists in the 1950s and 1960s. The overcrowded slum tenements were demolished in favour of the hideous grey pebbledash and yellow panelled buildings the NHS managers are squinting at today.

Now they, too, are being demolished.

At Crown Street, a housing association and its tenants have designed some replacement housing. Ironically, it's a kind of updated tenement.

Social inclusion partnership manager John Quinn is going to take the delegates on a walk. His social inclusion partnership - or SIP - is one of eight geographical partnerships created by the Scottish Parliament. There are also three themed SIPs - one for care leavers, a 'route out of prostitution' SIP and an anti-racist alliance - he explains.

The idea is to involve the community in regeneration projects. Gesturing to St Francis Church and around the wide spaces left by tower-block demolition, Mr Quinn says these 'physical signs' of regeneration have 'not been matched in the community'.

It's a point made by Dr Vicki Taylor of the South East region chief executives group, who used to work in health promotion and regeneration in London's King's Cross. 'What I'm not sure about is how much the community is actually involved.'

The people who left flowers and cards outside the police station the managers' group is passing, to mark the anniversary of a death in custody, might say a word or two about community partnerships, too.

'What are people feeling? Do they get a chance to finish high school? That's the important bit, ' adds management trainee Suzette De Coteau, of Buckinghamshire health authority.

But overall, managers are making the most of their trip. 'I'm enjoying it, ' says Lindsey Gough of Birmingham Heartlands and Solihull trust. 'You've got to share good practice.'

Her colleague Kevin Bolger agrees.

But like many on the trip, he's finding the notorious Gorbals closer to home than he thought. 'There's parts of Birmingham that are rougher than this.'