Bound with New Ropes: the book written by an NHS anaesthetist while his patients slept
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Thursday 28 March 2013
It is a torrid tale of unrequited love which ends with a charge of sexual harassment. But Bound With New Ropes, a 480 page-turner priced at £10, has one unusual feature – it was authored by an NHS anaesthetist while his patients were asleep.
Written with a breathless energy, the novel charts the downfall of a young university lecturer smitten by the charms of one of his students and his search for revenge after he is found guilty of harassing her by a tribunal.
In the “Acknowledgements” on page 5 the author, Peter Morris, who works at Castle Hill Hospital, east Yorkshire, as a staff grade anaesthetist – one rank below consultant - explains how he found the time to write it.
“Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust kindly paid me to write it whilst simultaneously giving anaesthetics,” he wrote.
The acknowledgements continue: “Many of their tardy surgeons unwittingly helped by making simple operations last for hours.”
There is a long tradition of surgeons poking fun at anaesthetists – the “quiet heroes” of the operating theatre who are supposed to have time on their hands once they have put their patients under. But it is rare for an anaesthetist to poke back - in public.
Although anaesthetists are required to monitor their patient’s vital signs throughout the surgery and make adjustments as required, they are seen as having plenty of “leisure” for other things compared with those who wield the scalpel.
They are reputed to be better read, better informed, better at playing the stock market and to excel at Sudoku. “And you get to pass gas at work,” wrote one trainee surgeon. “Who wouldn’t want to be paid for doing that all day?”
Dr Morris, who self-published his book, was not available for comment today. A person answering his office phone said he was away. When asked if he was on holiday she replied “kind of.”
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