Zombie, post-apocalyptic and dystopian books are like shoes - you can never have enough.
Hospital Babylon is the fourth book of Imogen Edwards-Jones' eight "Babylon" books that I have read in the past few years. Offering an insight into the world of situations and occupations that are glamorous and yet often ridiculed, these are pretty light reads, with input from anonymous insiders.
Probably the most famous of these books is Hotel Babylon, upon which a television series in the UK was based a few years ago. Hotel Babylon is also the first of the books I read (after seeing the TV series), followed by Beach Babylon (the story of a glamorous resort) and Air Babylon (the adventures of an airline steward which really freaked me out when it discussed what happens when people die on planes).
Hospital Babylon is the last of the "Babylon" books I will probably read, although I'm tempted by Restaurant Babylon that was only released a couple of weeks ago, and that's because it's the last one that I find particularly interesting. I'm always drawn to non-fiction books set in hospitals, as after working in one for more than three years (my favourite job ever), what I saw was enough to make your toes curl, let alone what the medical staff endure.
Based on twenty-four hours in a UK emergency room, seen through the eyes of one of the doctors in training, Hospital Babylon is both a look behind the scenes and at the front line of emergency medicine. Funny, sad, shocking and frustrating, the stories of the patients, doctors, nurses and other medical staff kept me turning the pages, and in between was an intimate look at the NHS itself, and the impact that standards of care, staffing requirements and middle management have had on changing how an emergency room in the UK operates - with some pretty frightening results.
However, unlike other non-fiction medical memoirs I've read in recent years, the main character resists the opportunity to really take a pop at the National Health Service - instead he highlights the impact of the changes, rather than railing against them, and how patients and their outcomes are ultimately affected - either for better or worse.
At times this book is very funny - some of the situations that people find themselves in would be hilarious to anyone except the person in the midst of it, and at other times it's very sad - how quickly someone who appears to have only a minor medical problem can deteriorate, how the staff are pushed to the edges of physical and mental limits and how they actually are real people too - something that is easy to forget when you are waiting for medical attention.
Hospital Babylon is probably the least funny of the "Babylon" books that I've read, but probably the one that I enjoyed the most. To be honest, the writing isn't mind blowing, but the insight with which the story of one emergency room, on one night, was told was enough to keep me entertained.