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On Target reviews


In Stitches by Dr Nick Edwards (Friday Books, £7.99 pb)

This controversial book by an A&E doctor dissects the harsh realities of NHS reform at the frontline of emergency healthcare. Dr Nick Edwards (a pseudonym) has little time for the bureaucracy, rhetoric and target culture of the ‘new’ NHS. He emphasises that 98% of the blog entries that make up this book were written in under four hours.

Originally written to let off steam at the end of a shift, these mini-essays vary from personal accounts of helping people in crisis to satirical lists (for example, of acronyms for types of patient) and impassioned critiques of current NHS policies. The pressures and conflicts of A&E are much in evidence, as are the varied pathologies of patient behaviour. Some of these anecdotes are clinically enlightening; some are tragic; some are hilarious.

Some particularly memorable passages deal with: why walls should be given ASBOs; the male patient whose ‘accident’ with a mobile phone required surgery; how hospital funds are diverted from frontline care to extra management whose purpose is to drive ‘efficiency’; a long New Year’s Eve shift in A&E; the elderly patient with an original definition of ‘health visitor’; and why people so often harm themselves.

Reading this book brings to mind George Bernard Shaw’s comment: Life does not stop being serious when people laugh or stop being funny when people die. For the healthcare sales representative, A&E doctors may not be direct customers – trust procurement managers are likely to purchase for them – but they are the end users of many life-saving products. This book will tell you much about their experience, their motives and the challenges they face.


On Target special book offer

Southbank Publishing are offering a free copy of In Stitches by Dr Nick Edwards to the first 4 On Target readers who answer this question correctly: Who plays Charlie Fairhead in the BBC drama ‘Casualty’?

Send your answer to

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni (Wiley, £15.99 hb)

“How many people here get excited about coming to work? How many of you are in a good mood when you’re driving here every day?”

Brian might as well have asked them if they liked being beaten with a stick. No one raised their hand. A few of them actually laughed out loud.

Reading Lencioni is like being slapped in the face with a warm trifle: hugely surprising at first and then very sweet, very sticky and very difficult to ignore. The Three Signs of a Miserable Job is the sixth in his series of wellrespected and widely read fables. To put him in context, this is a man who’s worked with the best to make them better, from start-ups to the higher echelons of the Fortune 500, to infinity and beyond.

His words are enormously readable, his lessons easy to digest and easier to act on. Brian, the superhero of this tale, has been teased out of semi-retirement and casual days on the snowmobile to turn around the fickle fortunes of a roadside diner. From delivery driver to manager, its workers come with contentment issues. Brian throws them into the blender to establish three metrics of their misery: Anonymity, Irrelevance and Immeasurement.

You won’t find the last of those in the dictionary, but it’s one you won’t forget. Lencioni draws together the threads of his theory with the skill of a Svengali; his influence is strong, his messages go deep.

 But don’t take my word for it. In the October issue of On Target the National Sales Manager at one of the UK’s best-known healthcare companies goes on record as saying that her sales teams “live and breathe the Patrick Lencioni Five Dysfunctions of a Team model”.

Buy, read, enjoy, learn.

David Learner is Business Development and Resourcing Manager at Delta Consultants.


On Target special offer winners: free copies of Marker by Robin Cook were won by Gary Rogers, Cristina McDowall and Rob Sawyer. Will it be you next time?


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