Book Review – This is Going to Hurt

This is Going to Hurt Cover


280 pages – April 2018

Adam Kay was a junior doctor from 2004 until 2010, before a devastating experience on a ward caused him to reconsider his future. He kept a diary throughout his training, and This Is Going to Hurt intersperses tales from the front line of the NHS with reflections on the current crisis. The result is a first-hand account of life as a junior doctor in all its joy, pain, sacrifice and maddening bureaucracy, and a love letter to those who might at any moment be holding our lives in their hands.


I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. Mainly because, perhaps unfairly, I rarely find it entertaining enough to keep my attention. And honestly, I expected This is Going to Hurt to follow that pattern – probably interesting, maybe educational, but likely dry.

I turned out to be quite wrong.

Adam Kay is irreverent, witty, and was clearly passionate about his job. He must have been, because after reading this book, I can’t understand why anybody would do it if they weren’t passionate about it. This is Going to Hurt is mostly told through his diary entries, written as he rose through the ranks, and manages to be hilarious, emotional, utterly disgusting and a perfect way to show how much crap medical professionals have to put up with.

Seriously people, stop sticking things up yourselves. Or at least stop getting them stuck there.

But through the humour, we’re also shown the flaws of the healthcare system. Like how the doctors are horrendously overworked, to the point where the phrase you can sleep when you’re dead seems like it should be written on the hospital walls as a reminder. Kay talks about the immense amount of pressure these medical professionals are under, their own mental health taking a back-seat to the never-ending amount of work to be done. He doesn’t dispute the need for the NHS, in fact, he talks about the importance of universal healthcare, but he also shows how the system desperately needs to look after the people doing the caring.

This book isn’t going to be for everyone. If you cringe at gore, crass humour, and careers that revolve around anything below the belt, this might not be something you’re going to enjoy. However, it’s also an important look into the lives of the people working in the healthcare system, and the sometimes devastating impact the job can have on them.

So maybe even if it doesn’t sound like you’ll enjoy it, read it anyway. It might give you a new respect for their work. It did for me.


You can also find this review on Goodreads.

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