NEW WRITING FOR THE NHS edited by David Morley, University of Warwick
The Gift is a major new anthology of writing for our National Health Service. It is also a message of support at a time when the NHS deserves something back from the people, and when NHS workers feel under attack. Some of the best writers in Britain (Doris Lessing, Fay Weldon, Hanif Kureishi) and beyond (Les Murray, Paul Muldoon) have written new work especially for this book, or donated it freely. Writers in the NHS worked with the editor on new work throughout January and February 2002 in workshops at Warwick University or via e-mail. Publishers have waived permission fees.
The first purpose was to produce a book of literary merit that stands on its own. The second is celebratory. The National Health Service is fifty years old and we can and should celebrate that half-a-century of dedication and hard work, and look forward to the next fifty years.
This project is the gift of a book to people – the first 31,000 copies are to be given free. It is the gift of talent of the writers in the book who, in their turn, gave their work free. And it celebrates the gift of life that is the central concern of our doctors, nurses, ancillary staff and other medical workers. The proceeds of any other sales will be donated to a trust for NHS staff. This project was initiated by Birmingham Health Authority and supported by the Nuffield Trust and, in kind, by the contributing writers and their publishers.
The book will be given free to every NHS worker in Birmingham, with the intention of widening that circulation to every NHS worker in the UK should a private donor come forward to pay for a second printing of one million copies.
‘The Gift is for our National Health Service. Not oxygen, but maybe a small point of light. This book is for the workforce of the service: it is writing as an act of community, even solidarity. This book wants to give the NHS workforce something which is serious, entertaining, permanent, meaningful, and articulate. The writers hope that their work might inspire medical workers to reflect on how people who use their service feel and think about their experiences.’