Saturday 9 July 2011

Hospital Babylon - Imogen Edwards-Jones

This book follows the footsteps of one doctors last shift in A&E before the dreaded black Wednesday when he himself will move on to another hospital and student doctors will flood through the doors. He's been there six months so nothing much throws him. He knows the routine, knows the team and knows what to expect. Still you can never really predict what's going to happen during a shift in A&E.

This book is part of a series. The first one was the popular Hotel Babylon which went on to become a television show. I've not read any of those. I did have a friend who loved them and recommended Air Babylon when it was released. As I am not a good flyer at the best of times I avoided it and any conversation where she brought it up. I imagine this one is quite similar though and it's supposed to shock people into the goings on of the NHS. The author is actually more like an editor whilst the doctor, colleagues and patients are kept anonymous.

If you have kept up with my blog posts in the last month or so you will know that I am going into nursing and picked up a whole bunch of books like this to give me a taste. It actually didn't shock me too much. It read more like "Blood, Sweat + Tea" by Tom Reynolds (which I highly recommend). Lots of stories about funny situations. Occasionally there will be one that will make you feel sad. A missing father turning up after two years only to have his son try to dump him on A&E is one example. You could sense the frustration the doctor has when it comes to some aspects of the NHS (much like Reynolds).

Only one part truly shocked me although I had heard stories of it so shouldn't really be that surprised. A man comes in having had a heart attack after taking too much Coke. After they have helped the man one of the other doctors takes the Coke and uses it. The doctor narrating actually considers joining him and the only thing that stops him is the idea of going back home to continue his fight with his girlfriend whilst on the stuff. One consultant is very rarely at work for a similar habit and yet is still paid by the NHS. It's disgusting and yet I've heard vague stories about things like this before. I am sure this is not completely atypical.

Over all I did enjoy the book. I'm not sure I learned anything from it as I did from The Nurse Nurse book. I didn't really expect to since it was from the point of view of a doctor. The good thing about it is that it in no way glamorises working in A&E. I am pretty sure that whilst I would maybe like to spend some time working there it's not where I would want to spend my entire career. I'm not sure I would read any of the others in the series either. None of them interest me quite as much.


  1. I used to work in A&E and that would be one bad shift that was portrayed in the book! However, most of those things do happen. I think the things that I liked about A&E come through - the camaraderie between staff and the positive results.
    I enjoyed the book, it made me laugh.

  2. I have a friend who works on A&E too and she loves it. I imagine working in such a stressful area would bring people together as a team. I'm sure if I ever get the chance to be lucky enough to work there I would love it for that reason too. It's not where my interest lies though and this book has solidified that feeling. Having said that, I still would like to give it a go and never say never and all that.

    It made me laugh too. Sat talking to my sister about it today. She couldn't stop laughing at the woman who came in because google told her she had appendicitis.