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Adam Kay, former NHS doctor
Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re a former NHS doctor

Danielle Goldstein

…according to Adam Kay, 37.

Doctors hardly have time to sleep, let alone chat to the media

‘People know doctors work difficult hours, but they don’t realise quite how difficult. The worst week I did was 97 hours, and when you’re working a 97-hour week you’re seeing the guy at Costa more than you’re seeing your partner. It wasn’t until after I quit that I got the opportunity to talk about it and read out my diaries on stage.’

There’s not much of a support network within the NHS

‘It’s not a profession where everyone looks after each other. In my first couple of years, one of the very junior doctors turned up in A&E having attempted an overdose because of the stress of the job. We all found out about it, of course, but no one emailed saying, “If anyone wants to talk…” In any other organisation, if someone tried to take their own life because of their job it would be a major issue – but not in the NHS.’

Doctors are partial to a sneaky Google

‘If a doctor ever says, “If you wouldn’t mind popping off and getting a urine sample,” and you’re wondering why, it’s to give them two or three minutes to Google your symptoms. And if a doctor ever says they’re going to look up your results and then turns the screen away, they’re probably also Googling them.’

Special occasions lead to special objects in special places

‘My best case of all was a patient who decided to propose to her boyfriend by putting an engagement ring inside a Kinder egg and inserting it vaginally. No amount of jiggling could get the goose to lay its golden egg, so they came to A&E. After I removed it, she asked her boyfriend to open it and proposed. He said yes!’

Adam Kay’s book ‘This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor’ is published by Picador.

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