Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Hospital Babylon, by Imogen Edwards-Jones

3 stars

Having worked in a hospital for the best part of a decade now, even though I’m not frontline (I’m one of the assholes in offices instead, running the organisation’s websites and such), I’ve heard many stories over the years that would make your toes curl, your hair stand on end and your stomach contents rapidly leave your body. I can’t share any of those stories with you, what with confidentiality laws and the high probability of losing my job if I did, but I can recommend that you read this book if you’ve ever been at all curious as to what really goes on in a hospital.

Taking anonymous anecdotes from healthcare professionals around the country and squeezing them into a narrative of the ‘typical’ (double) shift in an A&E, the format is a little clumsy at times as people stand around having awkward conversations in order to shoe-horn in another anecdote, but not enough to detract from just how interesting, shocking, sad or funny those anecdotes are.

Running through, amongst many other things, the self-medication of doctors and the addicts dying in toilet cubicles, the RTA’s and the twats calling ambulances for hangovers (although I’ve heard of much, much more appalling abuse of ambulances than this), looking at the strain placed on NHS resources by our growing obesity and alcohol-related problems (wanna feel faint? Look up how much a bariatric ambulance costs, and what weights they need to be able to carry) while big pharma jacks up the prices of commonly used drugs, as well as how you should never, ever leave food you want to see again in a staff fridge, some of the things shared will make you cackle, while others will make you despair a little for the human race.

A read that entertains as much as it informs, it’s also quick enough to be finished before your wait in A&E is over.

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