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PATIENTS by Polly Toynbee



Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 1977
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Two years ago Toynbee spent five months observing standard practices in the London Hospital, and her record is an attentive, informative view of everyday hospital procedures under the National Health plan. She spends time on several services--ob/gyn ward, children's floor, dialysis unit, emergency room--and accompanies several principals through their days: Staff Nurse French, juggling small chores and overlapping urgencies; Mr. West, an orthopaedic consultant with a respected private practice and long waiting list; Dr. Goodwin, a prima donna nephrologist who intimidates patients and nurses alike. The format allows Toynbee to develop a full sense of person or situation and to include later dispositions. In addition, she notices the extraneous details--uncharacteristically lovely nurses' uniforms, staff euphemisms and speech patterns--which make the scene more accessible to readers. One remembers the Bangladesh woman whose youngster brings her lunch, shares the relief when Mrs. Harris' lump is benign, and recoils upon learning that the smile on Violet Miller's face appears despite an overdose of anti-depressants. A tasteful, sensitive report.