Do No Harm

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Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh


Henry Marsh is an eminent consultant neurosurgeon who’s career has spanned much of the life of the NHS. Each chapter in his book recounts a surgical case or patient who has made a mark in his memory. Whether it’s because they defied the odds, or because things took an unexpected turn of events, Marsh writes about them with such eloquence and respect.

Littered throughout the book however, are side quips in regards to the slowly changing face of medicine throughout his career. The changing structure of medical training is apparent as Marsh laments the lack of camaraderie because of the constant rotating of the younger trainees. He struggles to the remember names of them as they are repeatedly changing.

The stories Marsh tells are touching and bittersweet. They reveal the difficult decisions that face doctors on a day to day basis. Alongside this is the constant interjection from government forces that are stripping away the doctor’s autonomy and slowly chipping away at the core of the NHS. To me, it parallels what is going on with the state of our national health service right now.

The first ever full junior doctor walkout in the history of the NHS is taking place today. Thousands of clinics and elective surgeries have been cancelled, and consultants are being drafted in to cover A&E and emergency care wards. As annoyed and angry as I would be if I was one of those patients affected, I am still in full support of the strike. This industrial action isn’t just junior doctors throwing their toys out of the pram because they are not being paid enough. It’s for the future of the NHS. If juniors don’t fight it, other healthcare professionals will be targeted next. I can only hope the government take heed to what the medical profession is trying to say. Junior doctors aren’t asking for the world. They are asking to be treated with respect and listened to fairly.

But then again, if they still insist on forcing through a contract that is unsafe and unfair on 50,000 junior doctors and some 6,000 newly qualified doctors come August, the above passage illustrates my sentiments entirely.

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