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Emy's Book Blog

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In Stitches - Nick Edwards In Stitches was a collection of short anecdotes from the author's time as an Accident and Emergency (A&E) doctor in the UK.

I have mixed feelings about this book. At some points, it was funny, life-affirming and interesting; at others, it made me question why the hell I want to work for the National Health Service (NHS).

The fact is, Dr Nick Edwards complains way too much about the state of the NHS. Normally, I wouldn't mind that much - most of his complaints were valid, interesting and eye-opening. But the fact is, he repeated the same complaints over and over again. By the third or fourth time he mentioned the 'four hour rule', I wanted to shake him and tell him that I'd got it already. I didn't need it reiterated through another few anecdotes. (It didn't really help that the book was written in 2006, and some of the things he complained about have been sorted out - a point that is, thankfully, shown in the later-added epilogue at the end of the book.)

Once you get past the repetitive complaining, there are some genuinely interesting human stories here, and a real look at what it is like to work in A&E. Some of the stories were even humorous, though often I did feel that Edwards was trying a little too hard to be witty and sarcastic. One of my favourite anecdotes was about the old lady who came in with an orange up her vagina. Yes, really. Of course, not all of the anedotes were funny. A couple were tragic and one (about a stillborn baby) even made me cry.

This book really shows the highs and the lows of working in A&E - the banter, the troublesome patients, the success stories, the death and loss. It also shows the huge pressure that the government puts on doctors and other NHS staff to meet targets, meaning that patient care is compromised. It also shows the ways that NHS staff have found to get around these targets and restrictions.

One thing I didn't like was the gender stereotypes occasionally thrown in as an attempt at humour, and these were the moments where the humour fell flat and it felt Edwards was trying too hard. On a couple of occasions, he tried to make jokes about women and shoes, and this irritated me rather than made me smile. I'm a woman, and I hate shoes.

Overall, however, it's a book that's easy to read in small doses and, if you can get past the moaning (bearing in mind he started writing as a way to vent stress after work), it is an interesting insider's look at the NHS.