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Undoctored: The brand new No 1 Sunday Times bestseller from the author of 'This Is Going To Hurt’

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Behind Kay’s intensely critical voice – the one I objected to in This Is Going to Hurt, when it faced his female patients – the voice that whirrs on, presumably full time in his head, is his mother’s. Perhaps it is artistic licence, perhaps exaggeration, but he presents his mother as intensely critical, oblivious to his pain. Though medicine broke him, she yearned for him to return to it, as if she could not hear. He needed a microphone.

Write down what it is you want to do at the bottom of a piece of paper, and then see if you can work on what the steps are to getting there. If offered, would you accept the position of secretary of state for health in the new prime minister’s cabinet? There is an emphasis on wellbeing in hospitals but when you dig into it, it often just amounts to a Zumba class. A recent report published by the GMC intended to improve support for the mental health of doctors but its recommendations were not taken on board by the government. People have a huge problem with seeking help. There is always the feeling that if you speak to someone, word will get out. There needs to be a culture, in medicine, that is less militaristic where people can talk openly. Juniors should be able to tell their bosses when they’re struggling, bosses should actively look out for their juniors. All staff should know where they can turn and trust they can get help that will not compromise their careers (at the moment, you are almost taught that doctors should not struggle).verifyErrors }}{{ message }}{{ /verifyErrors }}{{ The mood music isn’t that there’s going to be a huge amount of extra money going into the NHS anytime soon, what with everything going on. So God bless everyone who’s working in the NHS at the moment. I really don’t know how they’re doing it.’ The most distressing part of the book is his description of being raped in a sauna in New Zealand. He cut this episode out “about 20 times” before steeling himself to go ahead with it. The clincher, once again, was the hope that including it might help others to seek help. He puts his head briefly in his hands. “I know it will cause me grief in all sorts of ways. I know what social media is like, I know I’m going to have to answer questions about it for ever. But I was writing a book about being honest … Time will tell if it was the right decision.”

I am a former NHS midwife. I gave up practising due to the negative impact on my mental health. What’s the most important factor in retaining obs & gynae doctors and midwi ves?

Important Notes

That’s what Kay does: bodies exploding. But Undoctored is also – and I do not know how conscious this is – an exploration of the comic personality type. Comics explode too: with words; with rage. Which do you prefer: people asking you for medical advice at parties, or people recognising you and asking you about Ben Whishaw? When I ask whether there remain any closed doors within his narrative, he talks about how his comic gift serves him: “I still hide behind humour. It’s my coping mechanism.” At school, he was the class clown: “It was a way of being popular when I wasn’t the most friend-forming child.” In medicine, it became his “shield – effective but not healthy and not enough to deal with the bad stuff that happens”. In “real life”, he uses humour as “an excuse not to answer questions. When you were asking me emotional questions earlier, it was taking everything I could not just to think: what’s the glib line that will make you laugh and shut it down, move it on?”

Something that gave me hope through the pandemic – and continues to – is the public love for the NHS. I feel strongly that, were the NHS to come under any major existential threat, people would get to their feet and fight for it. I’m fortunate to get to meet medical students, nursing students and midwifery students, and get enormous hope from their energy. The NHS is in the safest hands – if it gets over the current bump in the road. It took Covid: I offered and it turned out they didn’t want a gynaecologist who hadn’t worked for a decade. I will doubtless return when I reach my expiry date as an author, as all authors do. I suspect I’ve done my last shift on a labour ward but I think I potentially have something to give in education or policy within the service. He’s a proper national treasure. There are millions of people who now presumably think that I look like Ben Whishaw too, and I’m absolutely happy with that!’ he laughs.I wrote This is Going to Hurt with a beginning, middle and end. I wanted it to be about the mental health of healthcare staff. I did what I set out to do and made a taboo subject an unmissable conversation. I have no plans for a second series, I’d hate to do one for the sake of it. But I am in the early stages of a new project which will hopefully become something, and, if it does, will be very different but, hopefully, people will watch it. Kay is known for being active on social media and remains a big supporter of the NHS and its staff.

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