Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book review: 

If you want good personal healthcare - see a vet
by David Zigmond

7 December 2015
Dr David Zigmond beautifully explains what’s wrong with general practice,
writes Dr Zoë
This book is a cri de coeur from the very soul of general practice. That feeling  you’ve had about why it all feels so wrong – the answer is here. Industrialised, standardised healthcare with guidelines, protocols and tick boxes has removed the immeasurable but invaluable from general practice. Zigmond (a GP and psychotherapist in Bermondsey) asserts that: ‘the underlying reservoir of   alienation, resentment, mistrust and anomie [amongst doctors] remains largely unarticulated, and little  understood.’ 

This book is a journal – vignettes from a lifetime of work in a small room – and is fascinating simply as a book of short stories, snapshot narratives on the lives of doctors and their patients. Inevitably, the themes emerge and coalesce around the central one: that humanity has been eroded out of the practice of medicine. We  have lost our humanity: for our patients and for each other, our fellow  clinicians. He laments the loss of humane care, ’Compassion may be powerful in effect, but it is fragile in viability: it needs a mindful and respectful space and ambience to survive.’ It is also letters, thoughts and  conversations. 

Above all, his book serves as a handbook. Its gentle persuasion shows, not tells, that just about everything we’re headed towards is unwise. He recalls the precious liminal space of our consulting rooms, our ability to ‘drink a person in’, detecting   with a lifetime’s intuition what might be our role, and recognising that people are people, with complex histories. It is a rallying cry for continuity, for permission to  care again. This book is the wisdom of a lifetime but most importantly, this book contains the language for revolt, the vocabulary to articulate your unease and express what really matters. We have all got it wrong, and Zigmond is very clear why.

Rating: 9/10

Dr Zoë Neill is a portfolio GP in Leeds                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Sunday, July 12, 2015

"David Zigmond’s writings are from several decades providing personal care as a medical practitioner. With rich, vivid and often playful language he explores the human meaning of symptoms and illnesses, and then how these are often driven out by our increasing managerialism, marketisation and systemisation." 

Professor André Tylee, Chair of Primary Care Mental Health,
Institute of Psychiatry, London

Dr David Zigmond, veteran London general practitioner and psychiatrist, in conversation with Dr William House, chair of British Holistic Medical Association at the launch of David's anthology of writings: "If You Want Good Personal Healthcare - See A Vet". For more information and for the longer version of the conversation go to:

This book should be on every health professional’s desk.”

Professor John Sloboda FBA,
Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Keele University
Read this book with the attention it deserves and you will not see healthcare in the same way again. Be prepared to join The Revolution!

Professor Sue Wheeler, Department of Counselling & Psychotherapy, University of Leicester

"This remarkable book will invigorate anyone interested in the personal meaning or politics of healthcare.”

Professor André Tylee, Chair of Primary Care Mental Health,
Institute of Psychiatry, London

Why, as our technology gets better, does much of our human contact and understanding get worse? 

How does this happen in our publicly accountable healthcare, and what is its cost?

This anthology draws from nearly forty years’ writing that describes and dissects encounters on the frontline of medical diagnosis and treatment. Beneath the very wide range of subjects lie the basic questions of welfare and social psychology: 

What do other people want and need? 
How do we (think we) know? 
Who decides, and how? 
This book’s unusual perspectives challenge many of our now dangerously sleep-walked maxims.
The anthology is offered in this complete large single volume, or in three separate smaller volumes.