The team guide to communication By John Middleton Radcliffe Medical Press Ltd 213 pages £19.95

I was pleased to be invited to review this book at a time when the successes of effective teamwork and communication were so evident throughout the Olympic Games. This is a timely publication in light of the many challenges health professionals face in making the New NHS work, and should prove a useful resource.

The author captures the mood of the moment, demonstrating the need for effective communication within healthcare teams.

Sharing his experiences as a GP and trainer, John Middleton adds a new model to successful communication - portrayed as the 'face model', an image which stays with the reader long after the book is closed.

The opening chapter introduces the 'face', alias the agenda model, which can be applied to any form of communication between people. This vivid imagery works well and acts as a reminder of both the complexity and simplicity involved in different types of communication in a range of situations.

The face model unfolds through practical examples, exercises and the use of think boxes covering all aspects of communication. Chapters two to five focus on problems in the consultation, one-to-one communication skills, the sixth sense - feelings, and difficult situations. While this is often from the perspective of the doctor, the importance of effective teamwork comes alive when chapter six moves sensitively into communication in groups and multidisciplinary teamwork.

Readers with knowledge of small group skills will appreciate the many good references and applied theories, which are used in practical ways to address difficult scenarios. The face model comes alive cleverly again with the agenda of group communication and there is a subtle move into the current world of clinical governance, supervision and realities of personal development plans. Injection of the good use of humour provides a lasting smile in this serious changing environment.

The remaining four chapters, covering teaching and learning, information technology, assessment and reflective practice, offer a wealth of extremely useful material to teams communicating in today's modern NHS.

Multi-professional learning is promoted, with practical pointers for success, and reflective practice is drawn out by the questions posed in the think boxes, thus providing a luxury not always available in our daily working lives - the chance to reflect on our skills.

The book is written as if the author were addressing another person. This style, along with the use of think boxes, is successful in empowering all members of the team, not just the clinical ones.

However, the title and cover do not do the contents justice. This is not just another book on communication; it demonstrates a real understanding of what makes teamwork effective. I recommend healthcare professionals to 'go for gold' and read it.