Book Review: Confessions of a GP by Benjamin Daniels

This is one of those type of books that digital-only publishing has become famous for. If it was in hard copy, it would be a paperback that you wouldn’t want to pay too much for and would be perfect holiday reading. That isn’t to say that it is valueless or badly written, because it isn’t. I mean it in the politest possible way in that without self e-publishing, it might never have seen light of day and that would have been a shame.

In essence it is a book of anecdotes, poignant tales of medical tragedies, social commentary about the problems that health professionals need to handle in the 21st century. He is passionate about the NHS and in a way it is an evangelical book about a QUANGO that receives a lot of (I feel mostly unjustified) criticism. He also offers views on alternative therapies, sicknote culture, “SLS” (Shit Life Syndrome) and the NHS as a political football.

On the plus side, it adds a lot of colour to the life of an a Medical Doctor who once worked in a hospital but chose later to become a GP. Tales of mistakes are mixed with personal triumphs, regrets and hard lessons learnt. It really humanises GPs against a media determined to portray them as aloof and arrogant. Benjamin Daniels is a likeable person (for patient confidentiality this is not his real name – he has also written several columns for The Guardian) and we like him even more for highlighting his personal shortcomings.

On the downside, the book lacks structure and as a result it doesn’t flow well. For example, a collection of funny answers from entrance exams for medical school is wedged between his views on anti-depressants and the NHS lack of haste in adopting new technologies. I also kept wishing he would expand on the subjects he discusses. All too often just as you think the author is getting his teeth into a subject (unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies, sicknote culture, alternative medicines, placebos, the Tories butchering the NHS etc) he moves onto something else. This gives the book a superficial air and can be frustrating for a reader believing that they are about to experience wise insight from the front line of medicine away from government spin.

It is available in paperback and hardback but only currently 99p for the Kindle download.

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