This is obviously an ‘interesting’ time for the NHS. The amazing service they provide to us on a daily basis in London alone, coupled with the pressure they’ve been under very recently from the terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower disaster, means that my admiration and gratitude for all of its staff has never been greater. So reading a first hand account of the daily grind, straight from the horse’s mouth, felt really appropriate.
Adam Kay kept this diary throughout his journey as a junior doctor, outlining the pitfalls of each stage and attempting to document the reality of the task in hand. He has had to go through the diary with a lawyer to ensure that nothing is too liable (although I think I’d prefer not to know about some of the things doctors get up to between shifts) but that doesn’t detract from the genuine feel of the book.
If you want a one line summary it’s this: It is an absolute travesty that these people, who train so hard to do a job which benefits us, are so badly treated by our government.
But before you think that the whole thing is an ongoing moan about the terrible conditions that our doctors and nurses have to work in, it really isn’t. I mean, it is, but it’s also one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time and made me laugh out loud and interrupt my husband so I could read him excerpts (which he asked me to stop doing as he wants to read it next seeing what a great time it gave me).
There are some real gems (why would anyone put a toilet brush up their arse?!), heartwarming stories of success over adversity and insights into the real and scary stupidity of some (only some) individuals. He marvels at humanity on a daily basis, not just the patients, but also his work colleagues, the good, the bad and the downright ugly.
On a personal note, I found the bits about Obstetrics and Gynecology (in which he specialised) fascinating and terrifying in equal measure, and I think I’m quite pleased I didn’t read it whilst pregnant (maybe a word of warning there for anyone who is).
Mainly the diary explores why doctors stay doctors – after all, some of them aren’t very good, while others obviously find the whole thing really stressful. And eventually Adam answers the question himself, making a decision which although shocking, is entirely understandable.
We all know that doctors work long hours and we all think we can imagine the things they have to do, but this diary that Adam has brought to life in book form, really drives it home. If it wasn’t funny, it would be tragic and it’s his irrepressible & almost entirely black humour which makes this read a memorable one.