I’ve seen this book being talked about a lot in the last few months and I eventually picked it up in Waterstones, I began reading it that very afternoon.
Adam Kay is now a writer and comedian but studied to be a Doctor and this book is a diary of his time as a Junior Doctor in the NHS, the health care system in the UK.
Adam eventually specialises in delivering babies and works his way up the career ladder. He talks about the hours he works, the money he earns, the impossibility of living a normal life when you can’t even be off work ill without being expected to find someone to cover your shift. Adam tells some funny stories, some horrifying stories (I think the degloving at the bus stop is the one I was most shocked by and the kinder egg proposal story was eye watering!!!), some beautiful and happy stories and some devastating ones.
The book is presented in diary format and Adam has tried to change as many identifying details as possible, of course. As he says there are few more identifying features that a birth day on a maternity ward.
The book spans several years and covers Adam’s career in the NHS. He eventually left as he clearly suffered from some sort of PTSD following an incident under his supervision.
I had read plenty of reviews that spoke of it as being a book people laughed out loud to. I didn’t find that myself so I guess it must depend on your sense of humour. I did find it fascinating though to hear all about the expectations put on the doctors. I think it is a good book for people to read of an older generation where I think they tend to think of Doctors as knowing everything. This book clearly shows you that they don’t. How could they?
The book is like a love letter to our NHS which ultimately is about the staff. Once I finished reading it I wanted to stop and send a thank you card to my Doctors Surgery, the A&E up the road and the Maternity Unit.
To everyone that has worked for or works for the NHS thank you so much for your commitment. As Kay says you don’t do this job for the money, you do it because it is a vocation.
For all my readers outside of the UK the NHS – National Health Service, was set up in the 1940’s and provides free health care to all. This week the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday. Those services provided by the government are currently facing severe financial cuts, this has inevitably affected resourcing and funding in areas such as health care, policing, Legal Aid, Fire Services, Libraries, Schools. Most things that touch our lives. The government have spent the last few years trying to get more for their money out of these services and this has tended to see working patterns changed to get more cover with less people. That means the less people cover the 24/7, somehow. The work to change the shift patterns in the NHS saw the Junior Doctors fight against it and the government suggest that their arguments were about greed.
This book illustrates that Junior Doctors don’t need money because they are always at work! There’s no point buying property because they get posted frequently to hospitals within a huge geographical area. Their relationships seldom last as they never see their partners! Kay’s account of his working life tends to show that he couldn’t work anymore than he already was.
Having had a similar experience in the Police I know how far there is to fall. That you are totally committed to your job and what that job brings to the society and community you live in. You give everything and it isn’t about money, it’s about doing your job and making it work despite that lack of staff, the lack of overtime pay available, the lack of equipment. But when you work so hard to make it work those that don’t see how hard you are having to work to do that think that everything is ok and therefore you must be able to make more cuts. Obviously. Inevitably your resilience is chipped away at and when something bad happens it affects you more than it probably ordinarily would. If you were mentally stronger, more up to date on your sleep, had been told thank you or had your concerns listened to, you probably would have processed the events better. You’d have got on the next day. But instead it breaks you.
I think this is a book for us in the UK for sure. Please read it and remember to love the NHS. Don’t expect them to be superhero’s. Ask them for help and you shall get it. But remember that they are as human as you are!