Book review: The Doctor Will See You Now

Book review - The Doctor Will See You Now

  • Date: 25 July 2012

Hodder & Stoughton; £12.99; 

Review by Joanne Curran, associate editor of FYi

THE junior doctor is back and he’s facing a host of new challenges as he gets to grips with life as a hospital doctor.

The Doctor Will See You Now takes us behind the scenes of NHS hospital care and offers a candid account of Max Pemberton’s experiences dealing with dementia patients and the elderly with some added drama of A&E. Woven into the mix are personal tales involving unpredictable flat-mates and difficult bosses, while Pemberton also offers up some poignant observations and criticisms of health service failings.

His previous two books charted his progression from his days fresh out of medical school to working as an FY2 with homeless and drug-addicted patients. Now he is back on the wards and having a typically frenzied time. Pemberton gives us a doctor’s-eye-view of life working on the NHS frontline, from the embarrassment of the patient whose erection won’t go away to the injustice of the dementia patients locked in their rooms to give care staff an easier shift.

The book is readable, funny and engaging and Pemberton does his best to offer something that both medics and members of the public will find interesting and easy to understand. It is sometimes a difficult gap to bridge, particularly in moments where he is discussing more doctor-specific topics such as the impact of the European Working Time Directive or the difficulty he has in breaking bad news to a patient’s family.

There are many genuinely important points made throughout the book (albeit in a somewhat earnest fashion) about the frustration of trying to do your best for patients in a system that is under-funded and often poorly managed. Knowing the story is based on real events adds to its credibility and impact.

So, while it’s unlikely to earn Pemberton any awards for literary merit, The Doctor Will See You Now is an entertaining read and offers an interesting insight into the trials and tribulations of a young doctor trying to make sense of NHS medical practice.


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