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Fifty years ago, the medical professorial ward round of a London teaching hospital was multidisciplinary, involving nurses, dieticians, physiotherapists, pharmacists and doctors. Next door the professorial surgical round most certainly was not. Ten years later in general practice, single authority persisted, each professional working within a personal agenda, selectively transferring responsibility but not power. Over the years, both geographical and specialist boundary-crossing teams, with each professional contributing a part to the whole decision-making process, have of necessity evolved rapidly, but not painlessly.
This valuable little book has 11 chapters devoted to NHS team working, and is written by an independent specialist in professional partnerships. Multidisciplinary working in the NHS, building teams, leadership, managing teams, communication, cultures, networks and team development are all addressed in easily understood, reasoned sections, each with an introduction to the scope of the topic, analysis, advice, guidance and conclusion. Dysfunctional teams are well analysed and ‘difficult people’ within teams are described with considerable feeling.
I found the book easy to read and understand, reassuringly non-didactic, and thoughtful. From the 11 languages of the various health and social service professionals involved in patient care can come forth a harmonised decision-making voice; this is more likely if all the team realises that management is rarely, if ever, about making clear-cut decisions on firm evidence.
In recommending this book to all those working in teams within the NHS (and all postgraduate centre librarians) and without detracting from its usefulness, I must add that I found several of the quotation/examples banal and for me, with the possible exception of 5.1, none of the figures added anything to the text except space between words. Perhaps this was intentional.