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?”