Chantal Simon, Hazel Everitt, Francoise van Dorp, Nazia Hussain, Emma Nash and Danielle Peet
Published by Oxford University Press (June 2020)
This book arrived as the Covid-19 lockdown started to ease (impressively Covid-19 even gets a small mention on page 299) and it was a pleasure to review. As a practicing GP, I like having good up to date books that can help me (and in turn help my patients) and this book without doubt easily fits the role. This book is superb and maintain the high standards that we have come to expect from the excellent Oxford Medical Handbook series. This particular book is now in its 5th edition and being published in Summer 2020, it should help to support primary care staff for the next few years.
If you think about it, the range of subject matter in primary care is massive and so not surprisingly this handbook is quite chunky, coming in at 1142 pages. Even so, it is still a handbook and quite portable or it can take up minimal room in a consulting room desk. More importantly, it is the content within the traditional vinyl covers that is crucial and this book is superb in covering what is relevant to general practice. The authors are all from within the UK and so is highly relevant to practice within this country.
From previous editions, I had high expectations for this new edition and I was not disappointed. It is stuffed full of practical and relevant information relevant to the needs of every day practitioners. Obviously, GPs (at any stage in their career) will find this book very useful and so will GP registrars new to the discipline but there are many others as well. General Practice is constantly changing and we are seeing more input from an expanding workforce team including pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, nurse practitioners as well as specialised administrative staff who could be doing coding as well as IT support. Many of these people will also benefit from access to this book.
GPs I am sure will be impressed with the excellence of this book, as put simply; it is superb. The book coverages a huge chunk of general practice and does it covering the facts and the important elements with no added extras. It is full of wisdom, great advice and without doubt offer high standards of practice without having to read through a number pages of pages of text in a standard medical textbook. All the information is easily extractible, and it is quick to drill down to the advice you need. Although it may not replace having an experienced GP sitting next to you, waiting to answer your questions, it could do a good job in that respect. I used this book a large number of times during the review process and for the vast majority of times (unless a rarity) it came up trumps. For example, I quickly wanted to update the primary care management of fatty liver and page 392 supplied the answers. Although the book is clinically focussed, it covers the relevant administrative and social aspects of UK general practice as well.
I used this book to help me in my practice over a number of weeks and it was brilliant at giving me up to date advice and wisdom and answering the majority my queries, satisfactorily, and importantly effectively and efficiently. It is well written, clear and concise, pitching the amount of information at the correct level. Using this book on a regular basis also impressed me how much knowledge is contained between the covers but also how much effort must have gone into creating this edition. If you are unsure about a topic and need the basic facts and best practice from a UK primary care perspective then this book should fit the bill. It is excellent for either reading around a subject or trying to find the answer to a relatively common question on a relatively common topic. It is not an all-encompassing large medical textbook but full of concentrated GP orientated wisdom and advice, ideal to help you manage a patient.
For what you get, it represents fantastic value for money and every GP registrar would find this book useful. So would every GP no matter wherever they are in their career, as we all need access to all the latest knowledge in a single and accessible volume that is great value for money. Ancillary staff will also find this helpful and my only criticism is that the book does not come with an app version bundled with the purchase price of the book. I suspect many people would be prepared to pay extra (but not too much!) for this facility of having the contents of this book on their tablet and smartphone. A small gripe in what is otherwise an excellent and practical handbook of General Practice (from a UK perspective) and comes in at a very reasonable price.
Dr Harry Brown
7th August 2020