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Saturday, 5 January 2013

Matron on call by Joan Woodcock

Matron on Call: More True Stories of a 1960s NHS Nurse
That's the thing about Casualty - one minute you were trying desperately to save someone's life, the next you were trying to stop a simple nosebleed. Since training to be a nurse in the 1960s and with an NHS career spanning over forty years, Joan Woodcock has seen it all. Working on hospital wards and in prisons and police units, Joan quickly learned to keep a cool head whatever the situation. Here she recounts the highs and lows of her time in the casualty unit. Taking place over twenty-four hours one New Year's Eve, Matron on Call shows what really goes on behind the scenes in Accident and Emergency. Joan deals with every manner of injury: from broken limbs, horrific road accidents and fatal heart attacks to drunken patients jumping the queue, ingrown toenails and earache, Joan shares her memories and tales. Funny, poignant and compelling, this is a heartwarming portrait of a dedicated professional.

I do not work in the medical profession, however I have recently become interested in reading memoirs reminiscing about years gone by and their training. This was my latest guilty pleasure in reading about nursing in years gone by and I really liked the format of this book.

The book is set as a shift over New Years Eve in the 1980's at Wythenshawe Hospital where the author, Joan Woodcock, worked for six years. The author has decided to link stories together over the shift and although the cases are all true, they did not all happen in one night. I think this was a very clever idea and I enjoyed this format, although I have seen that other bloggers were unsure about this techniqur.

As with any hospital shift there were many cases - some were simple cases which needed cleaning, dressing and discharging, whereas others were more difficult, sometimes upsetting cases which left me thinking about the patients and their families after I closed the book.There were also humourous cases - a young man who caught himself in his trousers but also the distressing cases of overdoses. The book is a real piece of social history and I would recommend young student nurses read this book and see how the profession has progressed in the past 30 years.

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