It was with interest that I picked up Sick Notes by Tony Copperfield. I enjoy reading biographies and books about people’s occupations and this is one of the best I’ve read about the life of someone in the health profession. The hilarious, shocking and occasionally tragic truth about the working life of a British GP, written for the lay reader. Dr Tony Copperfield is an average GP in an average town. He spends his life fighting off the worried well armed with internet print outs and health pages torn from newspapers, dealing with youngsters with meningitis, worrying about swine flu, mopping up vomit, shouting at bureaucrats and banging his head against the brick walls of the NHS. Perfect for anyone who has ever wondered what really goes on in a GP practice. There are many funny incidents and laughed out loud on the train several times, breaking the commuter code!
Although it really made me laugh, Dr Copperfield makes some really serious points about the hoops that he and his colleagues have to jump through on a daily basis. He gets frustrated and bewildered by the bureaucracy and officials who make his job more difficult. Then there are some very funny anecdotes about the patients who also make his life a misery.
The vast majority of patients seen by a GP in any one day will recover on their own – with or without treatment. The skill lies in detecting those who do need medication or referring to a specialist. I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever wondered how GPs really work and what they really think of the patients. There is a useful glossary at the end of the book which may help you to understand your medical notes should you ask to see them. Be warned though – you might wish you’d never asked!
I’ll never see my GP in the same light again and I certainly won’t say “while I’m here doc” at the end of my consultation, lose my prescription or convince myself that I’ve got some hideous, incurable disease because I’ve spent too long on a medical website.
Witty, incisive, cutting and absolutely damning of the modern British health system, it is an insight into some of the hardest working, and totally frustrated, professionals battling to keep a nation healthy. My only wish is that it was 75 pages shorter, it seemed to get a little repetitive near the end.