I knew This is Going to Hurt was going to be good when I picked it up – my mum had been raving about it. Yet the contents of the new hit book by Adam Kay make it appear to be a fictional diary of a fictional junior doctor’s life in the NHS. Except suddenly, you realise that it’s not. Adam Kay details through diary entries written his Junior Doctor experience – it shows the good, the bad and the very ugly of working for the NHS, and is a must read. This is Going to Hurt truly makes you realise the reality of the NHS, and the pressures it faces, and this realisation really does hurt.
It’s difficult for those who do not have experience of working in the NHS, like myself, to empathise with NHS employees’ job pressures, yet Kay effectively demonstrates how unlike the majority of us, their personal lives can be fully effected by their job. For example, he broke up with his long term partner after missing another anniversary meal, due to yet another work emergency. Unlike other people, they cannot just turn a laptop off at 5 pm if they get a dreaded email, instead, they have to follow it through or risk consequences.
Yet it is not just this which Kay highlights, he shows the difficult expectation the NHS put on you – if you’re ill you have to find a replacement for your shift, and often you have to miss holidays, family weddings and other occasions because there are not enough doctors on shift. This aspect of the book really highlights how NHS employees’ experiences are different to others – because despite approved leave, whether they actually get it is tentative.
Kay’s book really shows the issues with the recent NHS changes – for example, he highlights the issue with the 4 hour limit for A&E waiting time the Government has imposed. As Kay points out, the patient in A&E can slip further down the list of importance despite the time pressure, because of many other life or death decisions being taken. Kay’s commentary on the time pressures and policy changes really shows how the government and media have no idea of the bigger picture, and the consequences of this. This depiction of the pressures the NHS faces due to the government’s attempts to please the electorate is effortlessly integrated into the book, and highlights how the government is trying to just plaster the wound up, yet what happens when the plaster is ripped off suddenly, and the government realises the true reality? The wound might never heal.
There are short term solutions being offered to long term problems, something which I never really considered until this book. One example of the consequences of the government’s policies, along with the immense pressure of being a doctor, is the mental health of doctors. Kay’s decision to stop practising medicine after a very traumatic experience demonstrates the toll of medicine and the pressure it can have on mental health, so it is no surprise that in 2016 60% of UK doctors had mental health issues – and I am sure this figure is rising, as is the amount of doctors leaving the NHS. Doctors do care about the state of the NHS, and their patients; and This is Going to Hurt really does show the passion so many doctors have. This just cements further the question of if the government is truly acting in the best interests of the NHS, when it can be said to be driving passionate, caring staff to the edge.
Kay’s account perfectly articulates the immense difficulties and hardships the NHS is under today. It is coupled with a lot of humour (he is now a comedian), stories which could have come out of Grey’s Anatomy and some life changing medical knowledge (all I’m saying is that I did not know prolapses were a thing). The book shows you just how much doctors care, yet also makes you empathise with the difficulties doctors are under, it helps you realise how much you value the NHS and how much you yearn for an NHS that is treated better by the government, and one that is not seen as a tie by its employees. Most Junior Doctors love their job – and this shows in Kay’s diary entries, yet it also shows how their jobs do not treat them well, and force them out of a profession that they love.
This is Going to Hurt makes you ache for a better NHS, where staff are supported and appreciated, one where the government shows its care for it, and makes you hurt for the current institution. This book makes you even more passionate about the NHS, it makes you want to go to Downing Street and protest the government’s plans, and makes you want to support the NHS staff even more. It is is a must read for all citizens of the UK.
Buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/This-Going-Hurt-Secret-Diaries/dp/1509858636/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533755614&sr=8-1&keywords=this+is+going+to+hurt
Photo: Tim Clarke/Daily Express