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Thursday, 11 September 2014

michael foxton & Max Pemberton

reviews written & read live on the bookshow by Ro Bennett 12th Sept 2014
Bedside Stories: Confessions of a Junior Doctor - Michael Foxton and 
Trust Me, I’m a Junior Doctor by Max Pemberton

I read both of these books to see how similar they were and how they compared to Hospital Babylon. Hospital Babylon was a year in hospital life compacted into a day written by Imogen Edward Jones from data provided from an anonymous doctor. These two books are both written by actual doctors describing their own experiences. 

Bedside Stories by Michael Foxton is the first book, written in 2007. I found this the more sombre of the two books.

This is the Blurb:
For two years, Michael Foxton wrote about his experiences as a junior doctor in the NHS for the Guardian. Vivid, hilarious and often alarming, his book has gone on to find a cult following among doctors and patients alike. His observations illuminate the quirks, horrors and delights of all aspects of doctoring, from casualty to the psychiatric ward. Foxton tells us what it really feels like to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and introduces us to a mixed cast of patients that includes the rude, the violent, and the outrageously flirtatious.

About the Author
Michael Foxton was a junior doctor in the NHS and wrote a regular column about his job for the Guardian. Michael Foxton is a pseudonym.

 The book is written in column format which makes it easy to read - The narratives focus on the trials and tribulations of the poorly-prepared junior doctor, entering an overworked and underpaid NHS system. Dr Foxton’s purpose was to show the general public what it is like to be a junior doctor in the NHS but in a series of often amusing anecdotes from his medical/surgical house officer, casualty and psychiatry rotations.

The second book, Trust Me I’m a Junior Doctor was written in 2008 by Max Pemberton is very similar. Max Pemberton is also a pen name. In fact there are so many similarities which I will go into later, that I wondered if they were the same person since Michael Foxton is a pseudonym. I found this book more memorable and more entertaining and enjoyable to read.

This the official blurb. 

If you're going to be ill, it's best to avoid the first Wednesday in August. This is the day when junior doctors graduate to their first placements and begin to face having to put into practice what they have spent the last six years learning. Starting on the evening before he begins work as a doctor, this book charts Max Pemberton's touching and funny journey through his first year in the NHS. Progressing from youthful idealism to frank bewilderment, Max realises how little his job is about 'saving people' and how much of his time is taken up by signing forms and trying to figure out all the important things no one has explained yet -- for example, the crucial question of how to tell whether someone is dead or not. Along the way, Max and his fellow fledgling doctors grapple with the complicated questions of life, love, mental health and how on earth to make time to do your laundry. All Creatures Great and Small meets Bridget Jones's Diary, this is a humorous and accessible peek into a world which you'd normally need a medical degree to witness. Max Pemberton is a doctor. He writes a weekly column for the Daily Telegraph.

About the author: Max Pemberton is a practicing doctor. As well as a degree in Medicine, he completed a degree in Anthropology for which he was awarded a first and a prize for academic excellence. Max has worked in a broad range of medicine from geriatrics, adult psychiatry, surgery and paediatric palliative care. He is also a columnist for the Daily Telegraph and Reader's Digest. In 2010, he was named Public Educator of the Year 2010 by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. His second book, Where Does It Hurt? details his experiences of working in an outreach project for the homeless and people addicted to drugs. It tells the stories of the people he met and his own journey as he tries to discover if one person can make a difference and if people really can change. His latest book, The Doctor Will See You Now, is based back in hospital and is focused on Max's time working in dementia and care of the elderly.

I couldn’t find any facts about the first author, or a picture of him. I was looking because some of the facts are so similar I wondered if it was the same person. There was plenty of material about Max Pemberton who has his own website,  is on Twitter and has a very interesting page on facebook. He is very dishy - and openly gay. 

Both books are a damning indictment of the way the NHS is run, but both authors are none the less both staunch advocates for the NHS. 
Both were overrun with bureaucracy, paperwork, targets, league tables etc Both had issues with consultants who suffered from an over inflated sense of their own importance or were unhelpful and arrogant.
Both hid in the loo when the cardiac alarm went off; quote Michael Foxton: The crash bleep went off… no doctor in sight… no way I was wading in there on my own: I turned and saw the loo. Of course I hid...
Both went on to become psychiatrists
Both had a deep desire to cry and give it all up 
Both wrote columns for national newspapers

I think the inclusion of Max Pemberton’s personal life, his flatmates and colleagues friends Ruby, Supriya and Lewis help to make his book a lighter read. Both were well worth reading though. 

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