….And it very probably will. This book certainly had me squirming (Top Tip: it’s not the best book to read during your lunch break!). I haven’t read anything before with so much bodily fluids sloshing around (Top Tip 2: you might not want to read this it if you are pregnant). Adam Kay has written one of the best-selling non-fiction paperbacks of the year and at long last it seems to be dawning on people what being an NHS doctor in a hospital is actually like.
Kay wrote diaries which span over six years (2004-10) from the very first day of his appointment as a House Officer, enthusiastic but terrified, to an incident which eventually led him to hanging up his stethoscope as a Senior Registrar. It is an extraordinary and ultimately chilling catalogue. Since giving up the medical profession Kay has turned to comedy and it was obviously his ability to pick out the funny side of his work that kept him (more or less) sane. Long hours, patient demands, inserted foreign objects, inexplicable IT systems, patient misunderstandings, long hours, fractious home lives caused by long hours, medical misunderstanding, oh, did I mention the long hours are all present here. Kay’s decision to focus on obstetrics and gynaecology provides many fraught moments, quite a lot of those body fluids, and will make for difficult reading at times for the squeamish.
But apart from this his account serves as a testament to just how bloody marvellous people who choose to work in the NHS are. In recent years (and remember Kay left 7 or 8 years ago, I don’t things have got any better) the government has seen fit to try and squeeze the NHS into a corset of implausible targets, an over-emphasis on accountability, uninformed choice and poor funding so that it is only through the sheer dedication of its workers that it survives.
The expectations of people to continually deliver their best in life and death situations after incredibly long shifts and with little back-up support or care for them as individuals can only bring about stress, trauma, an exodus out of the service and in alarming statistics suicide in order to escape the never ending responsibility in an increasing litigious society.
Anyone who starts to have a flicker of hesitancy when they hear a government minister or certain sections of the press claim a medic’s life is a cushy one should be forced to read this book. And did I mention it is also very funny….
This Is Going To Hurt was published in the UK by Picador in 2017