The ‘new support’ is 18-year-old Bella Anstruther, just qualified as a medical secretary, embarking on her first job in St Regis District General Hospital in Chelsea, London.
The ‘backbone’ refers to all the clerical and back office staff required to run the hospital. The book follows Bella’s progress from a shaky start to successful promotion. As a floating bank secretary, she moves around departments and meets many interesting characters! Jill, her motherly supervisor, the Typing Poolers and other secretaries she works with, the jovial post-room boys including awkward Norman, desperate to ask her out, Lulabelle their statuesque and wise tea lady and Lottie “The Lush”, an ex-medical secretary who is found in the pub over the road, to mention just a few.
St Regis itself is suffering: the buildings require urgent repairs and the staff’s morale is in decline due to poor conditions, low pay and terrible food.
The Hospital Administrator, Frank Cumbridge, also new to St Regis, attempts to instigate management schemes but only adds to staff resentment. Little does he know that he is playing into the hands of the powers that be in the DHSS and their plan for St Regis.
This is a light-hearted and affectionate reflection of life in a London hospital in the late 1970’s and is book one of the Bella quartet.
The characters and hospital are entirely fictional but are based on experiences and encounters during the author’s early days working as an agency temp in London during the mid 1970s.
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