Adam Kay, author of This Is Going To Hurt, takes to the stage at Stylist Live LUXE to talk about what you can do to help the NHS this Christmas.
They say laughter is the best medicine, and we might have never believed this saying before reading Adam Kay’s book, This Is Going To Hurt.
The former doctor and comedy writer’s first book has sold over a million copies, and his follow up, Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas, was released last month and we predict it’ll do just as well as the first.
But with the festive season well and truly upon us, Kay is reminding people to take a break from the laughter (just for a moment, we promise) to think about the incredible strain and pressure NHS staff will be under this Christmas, ensuring that we have the healthcare we need 24 hours a day.
Speaking at Stylist Live LUXE, Kay recalled the years he worked in a clinic and the dynamic he often felt with patients who wouldn’t see him as human: “When the clinic I was working at would overrun by several hours, patients would shout at me. They were right to be angry, they should have been seen. They would moan that the car had run off the metre, or that they had childcare problems, but not in the year that I worked there once did one patient say to me, ‘you probably don’t want to be here either.’”
He continues: “Because, we don’t. But the thing about doctors is that they do get sad and they are just humans. They might have a stethoscope around their neck, they do an amazing job but they are just a teenager who put a random tick on a UCAS form who could have been a lawyer, or a civil servant, or an architect, or an accountant. And every single bad thing that happens, and bad things happen everyday, they can be the death by a thousand cuts.”
“For you as people who aren’t doctors, there’s something you can do. You can be the support network for the health care professionals in your lives. They’re trained not to talk about their own bad days. If you ask them how their day is, they’ll reply, ‘yeah fine.’ They’ll put the shield up because they have to,” he adds.
But the truth is, as Kay says, for NHS staff the days are never fine and he says it’s up to us to speak to them and let them know that they don’t have to pretend they’re something that they’re not. He explains: “They go into medicine to do the best for their patients, but you can’t do the best for other people if you don’t look after yourself.”
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Sharing the artifacts that became most sentimental to him after he left the NHS, Kay remembers: “I’ve thrown away a lot of the stuff from when I was a doctor, but the things I’ve kept are the half a dozen cards that patients have sent me over the years. That was a tiny action in the scheme of things to the patient, but it made a disproportionate difference to me. It kept me going not just through a bad day, or a bad week but sometimes a bad month.”
“If you had a need to use the NHS over the last year, send them a little card or a box of chocolates. Whatever you can afford. It will make a difference to people who are pulling together in an incredibly stressful, stretched service. Even if you haven’t required the NHS in the last year, there are still things you can do. Give blood, donate money to a hospice, to the people who desperately need your help and your support.”
So there we have it, the smallest actions can have the biggest impact. So grab yourself an extra pack of Christmas cards, and make a healthcare professional’s Christmas.
Images: Bronan McNeil
Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.