Don’t Let The Health Service Kill You (2011),Jimmy Smyth:

Don’t let the health service kill you is a call for people to take ownership of their own health. Jimmy Smyth’s non-fiction book is the essential manual for anyone who is likely to ever deal with the health service, which is just about everyone. While acknowledging the often excellent service provided, the book also exposes the weaknesses in the health service, equipping the reader with the tools to overcome potential problems. Jimmy Smyth’s plea is for the general public to ‘retain control over what is happening to us and not just blindly lie back and let the medical profession treat us without our full involvement’ (p171).

Far from being a sensational back catalogue of scandals, Jimmy Smyth’s book is an accurate and practical guide to the health service labyrinth, how it works and how to get the best out of it. It draws on failures in the past in certain sections to demonstrate the shortcomings of the health service and how this might impact on you. Onus is also placed on the public, with a section on how to be assertive when dealing with medical staff to ensure the patient is recognised as a key stakeholder in the process, while another chapter addresses how to stay healthy.

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Ultimately, this book shakes the reader into action to end the worryingly passive nature so many of us take when dealing with the medical profession: it’s time we took ownership of our own health, and this book tells us how. Issues covered include:

    Medical training, qualifications and regulations
    How hospitals and the Department are run
    Hospital infections
    The pharmaceutical industry and its relationship with the medical profession
    Details of medicine and their side effects
    The role of the local pharmacy
    The structure of the NHS
    Differentiating between Primary and Secondary care
    Explaining the private medical sector
    Raising awareness of medical failures
    How to be assertive
    How to research and gain knowledge of health issues
    How to maintain a healthy lifestyle
    Make health your priority

This book is not niche: it is relevant to everyone, in that it does not go into specific details for a particular condition but is a manual for interacting with the health service and protecting yourself. This is the kind of book every family should own a copy of. While avoiding sensational scare-mongering, it informs readers of the short comings of the health service to better equip the general public for their dealings with the health service. It is informative, and it is important.

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