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9 Books with the NHS at Their Heart

The NHS was born in 1948 as a plan to make healthcare accessible to everyone. Since then, the people of NHS have always been there, ready to step in if we need support and treatment. The thought of not having a National Health Service is inconceivable, they need our support as much as we need theirs. Here we have a short collection of fascinating books from NHS workers or people who have experienced their care, from memoirs to poetry, from before and during Covid, for you to read. 

Many Different Kinds of Love

Many Different Kinds of Love

Author: Michael Rosen Format: Hardback Release Date: 18/03/2021

Many Different Kinds of Love has the subtitle ‘A story of life, death and the NHS’. This book is a thank you to the NHS healthcare professionals and helpers who looked after Michael Rosen when he caught Covid-19 last year. These weren’t just doctors and nurses, but also speech & language therapists and physios, all working out of their own comfort zone to help on the frontline. Michael Rosen can’t describe most of his ICU experience, as he spent 48 days in an induced coma. But this diary of his hospital stay uses a mixture of poems, drawings, diaries and letters from hospital staff, family and friends to provide an honest account of what it feels like to care for someone with severe Covid. Michael Rosen talks about not just how he felt physically during his recovery and rehab, but emotionally too – revealing his frailty and fragility. He shows warmth and gratitude for the people who saved his life, and anger towards those who deny the seriousness of the pandemic. This book is full of raw emotion – sad, honest and thought-provoking, but also uplifting, heartwarming and enlightening. A joy to read!

Handle with Care

Handle with Care

Author: Rachael Hearson Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/06/2020

Eye-opening, amusing, and heart-warming, this is the personal as well as professional memoir of a health visitor. Rachael Hearson joined the National Health Service as a student nurse in 1979 and has spent time as a nurse, midwife, health visitor, and community practice teacher. As a health visitor she says she has a: “privileged and unique access to all families with children under five; our office is your living room.” Boy, does the introduction really spell it out, from the strange and dangerous through to the wonderful, she’s truly seen it all. I felt as though I was sat listening to a friend, she has a lovely light, bright, chatty style which helps provide a vivid and vibrant picture of her experiences. She clearly has huge empathy and adores her job (yes there are downsides too). The epilogue at the end titled ‘Love in the Time of Corona’ is a fascinating insight into the thoughts of an NHS worker as we all learn to live with Covid. She makes some striking points about the importance of the NHS, stating: “We must continue to bang the drum for the NHS.” In other words, now is the time to make the right changes to ensure our NHS continues. Handle With Care is a wonderful insight into a world that the majority of us are thankful for, and it has been chosen as one of our LoveReading Books of the Month.

The Cared For

The Cared For

Author: Craig Henry Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/10/2019

An Ode to the NHS. The twisting and turning story of Henry's sciatica treatment. a non-fiction account of both private and public healthcare covering any and all aspects of Henry's illness including being temporarily paralysed, the characters on the wards, spinal surgery and recovery, addiction to pain medication and his treatment by the doctors nurses and physiotherapists throughout. This is a story of hope as well as a letter of gratitude. As someone who has grown up with parents working in the NHS, the work patterns and experiences of the staff were familiar to me. I also found this a very insightful read, it is not only about Henry's diagnosis and treatment, but about how desperately we need the NHS to keep going, and how much the human mind and body can endure. The characters described throughout keep you interested in their treatment as well as Henry's and provide light relief during darker periods of his journey. They act as a balm to the reader as well as the writer while describing the weeks and months of constant pain, worry, doubt and depression that would have otherwise been all-encompassing.  A brilliant book full of the ups and downs of a long term and life-changing illness, made even more endearing that 50% of the proceeds go to the charity that supports the NHS hospital so frequently mentioned throughout. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

The Prison Doctor

The Prison Doctor

Author: Dr Amanda Brown Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/06/2019

A gob-smacking, truly challenging yet inspirational read awaits. I saw the synopsis for this autobiography and just knew I had to read it. Dr Amanda Brown tells of her experience after leaving a quiet GP’s practice to become a prison doctor. She has worked in a young offenders institution, notorious male prison Wormwood Scrubs, and Europe’s largest woman prison Bronzefield. Dr Amanda Brown is still working at 65, to her this job matters, it really, really matters. The author doesn’t judge, in fact she says of her job that she isn’t there to judge but to care. Having said that, she still has a job to do, rules to be kept, for both safety and security. I read this in one sitting, once I started, I couldn’t stop, and my admiration for this woman is sky high. I feel we as a society should read this book, should try to understand, should allow compassion and empathy entry to our thoughts. Fascinating and heartbreaking in equal measures, for me The Prison Doctor is a must-read and I’ve chosen it as one of my picks of the month.

Time to Heal

Time to Heal

Author: Michael Dixon Format: Ebook Release Date: 02/11/2020

Michael Dixon’s Time to Heal: Tales of a Country Doctor is a timely, spirited call-to-action to restore “humanity to medicine”, and comes highly recommended for readers who like autobiographies with bite, and for those interested in discovering what it’s really like to be a present-day GP - warts and all. Moreover, one hopes that it might also serve as a wider wake-up call - “every society should be judged by what it does for its weakest. We are one of the world’s wealthiest nations,” is not a statement to be ignored. The early chapters covering Dixon’s unusual route to becoming a doctor are wistfully witty - he made the move to medicine after reading Philosophy and Psychology at Oxford. On qualifying in 1984, he took up a GP post in Devon and embarked on a life-long learning journey. From these beginnings, and through his career, he sees that serving patients’ needs demands much more than merely prescribing medicine and programmes of treatment. Indeed, Dixon’s view that practicing medicine demands a holistic, human approach is at the core of his book: “above everything, we must value and refine our skills as healers over and above the pills and procedures that we may offer.” The importance of this becomes starkly clear when we consider that despite medical advances “life expectancy is no longer improving”, and Dixon firmly believes that the increasing epidemic of long-term diseases like depression, diabetes, dementia and cancer are “the result of our catastrophic failure to care for the environment, the planet, ourselves and each other.” These failures, he observes, have become even more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exposed the need for community connections and “the impact of social isolation”. Always honest, thoughtful and wise, I came away moved, enlightened, and hoping desperately that we see the kinds of social, community-focussed changes Dixon suggests, which are, in essence, centred around “rediscovering a common humanity.”

Hold On Edna!

Hold On Edna!

Author: Aneira Thomas Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/09/2020

Beginning with the author’s great, great grandmother Tory, who lived in Somerset “over 100 years before Edna brought me into the world,” Hold On Edna! recounts the remarkable story of Aneira “Nye” Thomas, the first baby to be delivered by the NHS. From learning that the “birth of the NHS received scant coverage” and was initially distrusted, to the author’s rousing reading of Michael Rosen’s “These are the Hands” poem at the NHS 70th anniversary event, this moving memoir is an absorbing mix of punch-packing family drama, and a powerful personal testament to Britain’s crowning achievement. Throughout, the author casts an edifying light on working class social history through her family story. For Tory and thousands like her, death was very much part of daily life. If you’re in a workhouse, struggling to feed your children, paying a “quack” to heal you in sickness was out of the question. It was Tory’s death that brought her widow and six children to South Wales to seek work in the pits. While further hardship followed, it was fortuitous that the author’s mother, Edna, left Wales to find work at the same time as her future father. Employed at the same London hospital, they fell in love but money troubles, mouths to feed and the outbreak of WWII brought them back to Wales. Through these same hard years, the couple’s compatriot Aneurin “Nye” Bevan had been devising a transformative plan for public health, leading to a Parliament bill “that would offer a state-wide health service" that was “to be free at the point of need; available to everyone, regardless of wealth or social standing.” And since “the man responsible for all this grew up not too far away,” Edna’s seventh child was movingly chosen to be the first child delivered by the NHS. Ready to give birth before the allotted time, Edna “held on… and then she pushed. I came barrelling into the world at a minute past midnight, the first baby to be born on the NHS”. A triumphant moment for a family who knew the toughest of times, and a triumph of transformative socialist policy.

Poems for a Pandemic: Voices from the front line of a global epidemic

Poems for a Pandemic: Voices from the front line of a global epidemic

Author: Angela Marston Format: Ebook Release Date: 18/06/2020

Heart-rending, inspirational and all-encompassing, Poems for a Pandemic will undoubtedly become a matchless historic document of how it was to live - and die - during the Covid-19 pandemic. And right now, in June 2020, with most of the world still in the clutches of Covid-19, it’s an invaluably empathic volume that shows we are not alone even when we feel at our loneliest. A book that will move readers to tears, to give thanks for life, and to the NHS. Poems for a Pandemic came about due to the drive of Angela Marston, a retired Palliative Care Nurse who devoted almost forty years of her life to the NHS. While struck with Covid-19 symptoms, Angela was inspired to write her first poem in years. On recovering she was compelled to “do something meaningful”, and so the anthology was born. Angela set about collecting poems by people from all walks of life - nurses, doctors, pharmacists, teachers, food bank volunteers – whose varied, powerful thoughts grace this 100-poem collection, with several professional writers adding their voices to the poignant chorus. Her vision was to raise money for the NHS (all proceeds of this anthology will go to NHS Charities Together), and to “record for all eternity the thoughts and feelings of ordinary people at an extraordinary time”. By Jove, she’s done that and more. The anthology spans raw, elemental subjects - health professionals holding the hands of the dying, acute lockdown loneliness, the fears of the proud relatives of NHS staff - to poems that document shifts in behaviour and collective consciousness – interacting online, staying home to save lives, staying apart on eerie streets, the hailing of new kinds of heroes. Then there’s nine-year-old Harry Husselbee who speaks for all humanity when he writes, “How I wish I could get this virus/And throw it to the moon”. And ten-year-old Cory Yeoman who warns, “Coronavirus you better watch out, because these doctors and nurses don’t want you about. This is our world…Get out! Get out! Get out!” We’re with you, Harry and Cory. In his stirring foreword Darren Smith, author of the powerful anti-racist poem “You Clap for Me Now”, writes “At its heart poetry is about trying to express something too big for words. Fear. Loneliness. Love. Community. Death.” With that definition in mind, Poems for a Pandemic is the very epitome of what poetry is about.   Download your copy on Amazon here or from any other ebook retailer now

Doctors Get Cancer Too

Doctors Get Cancer Too

Author: Dr Philippa Kaye Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/02/2021

Doctors Get Cancer Too is the 18-month diary of a cancer patient who is also a GP. Dr Philippa Kaye was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the age of 39. In her book, she gives a personal, honest insight into her cancer scans, surgeries and chemotherapy, from diagnosis to recovery. She writes about how each stage felt and looked, the decisions she had to make and the impact it had on her and her family’s daily life, using humour to cushion the graphic details. Her GP role meant she understood the medical side of being a cancer patient, but the practical side was a steep learning curve for her, now seeing everything from the patient’s chair instead. She includes copies of the ‘just in case’ letters she wrote to her three young children, packing list for a hospital stay and home post-op tips. Her diaries weren’t originally written to be published. But by bravely sharing her thoughts, emotions and experiences in such a public manner, she hopes to provide some support, reassurance and comfort to other cancer patients – and to also highlight that bowel cancer can affect people at any age.

This is Going to Hurt

This is Going to Hurt

Author: Adam Kay Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/04/2018

Interminably long hours being pulled from pillar to post, shifts peppered with horror stories and tears of joy this is the memoir of a sharp-witted storyteller which made me laugh, cry and everything in between. A brilliant book that must be read to really understand the daily battles of our doctors in the NHS. Deborah Maclaren, from our Best Autobiographies Ever Blog.

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