Are you drawn to medical memoirs? And prison memoirs too? Then this book is for you, as it’s about the experiences of Dr Amanda Brown, who switched from her community practice to a new challenge – prison health services. Starting with a young offenders’ institution, then with several years at Wormwood Scrubs, finishing with a women’s prison, HMP Bronzefield, where she still works.
This is an eye-opening quick read which has many shocking moments but some heartwarming ones too. A prison doctor is non-judgmental, helping the patients as much as she can, while complying with prison rules and standing her ground when she decides that prisoners are ill enough for hospital treatment. There are many challenges to the job, particularly with self-harm and drugs being so prevalent in prisons. It’s not one of the best-written memoirs I’ve read but it’s quite gripping and easy to read. If there is a fault, it’s that there’s too much praise for her, quoted from staff and patients. I know the message is how much a dedicated prison doctor, passionate about helping people, can make a difference. However, I’m afraid it looks a bit like blowing one’s own trumpet.
It’s a good read and some of the prisoners’ stories will stay with you. Not for the faint-hearted, though.
First published in 2019. Written with the assistance of Ruth Kelly.