Book review

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor
Read date: Nov 2018

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A marvelous, personal, engaged, and very funny view from the front lines of our (UK) hospitals, as Adam Kay recounts stories and entries from his “training diaries”, across his years as a junior doctor.

Some of the stories are just plain hilarious, but holding all of it together is the constantly visible thread: junior doctors work amazingly, passionately, sometimes almost literally unbelievably, hard. They relentlessly deliver hundred-plus hour work weeks, across day after day, without a break and often without sleep, missing birthdays, funerals, weddings (sometimes almost their own) to hold together the often creaking, glorious, sometimes Kafka-esque, National Health Service. None of these people work that hard in those circumstances for the money – they do it to save lives, to make a difference every day, in a way I can barely believe, but for which I am eternally grateful.

A friend of ours was woken up at four in the morning a couple of days ago, by an ambulance at her door. Although she had been sick in the night, she hadn’t called them herself: somewhere, sat on an uncomfortable chair using a taped-together computer in a local hospital, a junior doctor on his or her umpteenth hour of consecutive shifts had reviewed her blood results from two days before, had spotted that our friend was about to go into kidney failure, and had pressed the red button. Twenty minutes later, an ambulance crew were hammering on her door to take her in, fully prepared to break it down to get in. We all complain about the NHS – the waiting times, the paperwork, the endless seeming inefficiencies, even about the cost of the car parks. But there it was, unsolicited, in the dark, saving her life. Nye Bevan, we thank you.

View all my reviews