Bodies, a Novel by Jed Mercurio. Published by Jonathan Cape
Jed Mercurio qualified as a medical doctor and worked initially in the UK's NHS before he branched out and started writing: at first he co-wrote the amazing "Cardiac Arrest", and now this incredible piece of fiction.
What Mercurio describes in 358 pages is the bitter but inescapable truth of life in the NHS as a Junior Doctor: far away from the glamour and thrills of ER, this shows what life is really like as a JHO or SHO: the crippling on-calls, harassment by senior physicians, the culture of secrecy, the waste of human life by tired, overwhelmed doctors.
A young, inexperienced doctor fresh from medical school starts his first job at a London hospital and finds himself working without supervision, trying to cope but making inevitable fatal mistakes. His superiors tell him to alter the patient's notes to remove any evidence of wrongdoing. Around him he experiences the cynical and careless attitude of modern medicine. When he sees an incompentent consultant causing the death of a young patient he decides to blow the whistle on him but finds himself suspended. He compensate all of this with alcohol, drugs, the destruction of his personal life and mindless sex with a student nurse.
This book is not for the faint of heart. It pulls no punches when it describes the human body and its functions, be it in sickness, death or during sex.
The details are minute, the language authentic and the characters believable. Medical terminology is described in footnotes to keep the non-medic informed.
Don't expect a happy end. Don't read it if you want to continue to believe that doctors and nurses have any resemblence to Noah Wyle or Julia Marguiles.
Disclaimer: I've been one of those JHO's and SHO's. Unfortunately Mercurio does describe the truth. That's what makes it so bitter.