02 September 2013

Review: Confessions of a GP by Benjamin Daniels

Confessions of a GP by Benjamin Daniels

Published: 12 August 2010 by HarperCollins

Pages: 327 (paperback)

Genre/s: Non-Fiction, Medical

Source: Own library


Benjamin Daniels is angry. He is frustrated, confused, baffled, and quite frequently, very funny. He is also a general practitioner. These are his confessions. A woman troubled by pornographic dreams about Tom Jones. An 80 year-old man who can't remember why he's come to see the doctor. A woman with a common cold demanding (but not receiving) antibiotics. A man with a sore knee. A young woman who has been trying to conceive for a while but now finds herself pregnant and isn't sure she wants to go through with it. A 7-year-old boy with "tummy aches" that don't really exist. These are his patients. A witty insight into the life of a family doctor, this funny and moving account will change the way you look at your doctor next time you pop in with the sniffles.

My Thoughts

Last week I posted a review of Hospital Babylon, the story of one day in an English A&E Department, which I really enjoyed.  Because I enjoyed it so much I went through my books on search for something similar, and stumbled across Confessions of a GP, which I picked up a couple of years ago.  I was interested in reading a book from the perspective of a General Practitioner, because it promised to be more intimate and perhaps more focused on specific patients and scenarios.

However, Confessions of a GP is more a series of vignettes across the career of Benjamin Daniels, both as a GP and as a doctor in training in a hospital setting.  Several of the stories were sad, others almost funny, but the vast majority came across to me as being rather condescending.

I'm sure that as a GP, Benjamin Daniels has more than his fair share of frustrations with people - from those that treat their doctor like a get-out-of-work-free card, or take up their time with seemingly inane problems with unrealistic expectations of what their GP can do for them.  But as a book, it's rather disappointing, and his overall attitude comes across as knowing more than the average person, which in some cases is perhaps true, but left me more than a little disappointed.

The only character that consistently appears throughout the book is Benjamin himself, and as he is a locum GP, rather than having a permanent practice, there's not even the relief of having a receptionist or nurse play any type of recurring role.  And seeing as I liked him less and less as the book progressed, my enthusiasm for his stories lessened too.

Perhaps I'm being a little unfair because I'm comparing Confessions to an almost similar book, but surely writing about real people with a little more compassion isn't such a big ask.  There were a handful of patients that I was interested in their outcomes, but Daniels was so negative that it also started to rub off on me and I just stopped caring.

I really can't recommend this book to anyone, even if you are interested in medical non-fiction.  It was just one man's whinging rant, and I just didn't buy into it at all.

1 comment:

  1. As a nurse I can understand about how someone from my field of work would have a need to rant bout some patients, trust me there are many rants one could have... but there's also a lot to consider about the patient's situation they're coming from. And a doctor's rant about people he spends 5 minutes with... not something I'd be willing to read about!



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