Books in hospitals: a survey

The second survey of reading in hospitals, carried out in 2006 (the first was in 1992), reveals a worrying disparity between hospitals. Despite the existence of national guidelines governing the provision of cultural activities in hospitals, the reading matter on offer is all too often narrow in scope and short in supply, and thus fails to meet the majority of patient needs. While some efforts are being made to make reading matter available, resources – both human and material – remain insufficient in terms of equipment, opening hours, and bedside book delivery, for example, in a context of budgetary restraint in which key issues such as patient well-being and access to culture are neglected.