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Book Review: Undoctored by Adam Kay

Have you ever read a book that’s so hilarious that you’ve got some pretty funny looks on the train because your witch like cackle is ringing out for all the carriage to hear?

Undoctored by Adam Kay is that book for me.

It’s a book a tore through in two sittings, it’s a book that had me apologising to my fellow commuters as I creased up laughing.

So, a bit of background…..

In 2017, Adam Kay released This is Going to Hurt, his series of diaries about his time working as a doctor in the NHS, I read it a couple of years later.

It is eye opening and dispels some pretty common misconceptions a lot of people have about doctors. I mean, I especially liked his open letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt (then health secretary) at the end about how badly the NHS, its staff and patients were being failed by the Government, a fact that it is still true today. 

It’s a really funny book that’s desperately sad at the same time.

It was released during the climate of Junior Doctors strikes, there was a lot of misinformation around, Junior Doctors were portrayed in some parts of the media as being incredibly wealthy. The narrative was that they were striking out of greed.

That is simply not true. 

At the moment the narrative being pushed by certain media outlets around the potential nurses strike, is that they’re irresponsible to be staging a walk out. That it’ll put lives at risk….bull shit, nurses deserve a fair pay rise.

Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt is an unflinching glimpse into the reality of life as a doctor. It’s brutally honest, holds nothing back, it’ll have you howling one minute, cringing the next and in tears a moment later.

It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read!

Undoctored is the follow up about what happened next. What happens when a doctor hangs up his scrubs forever, how easy is it to walk away from medicine?

It’s about an extraordinary medical school education. 
It’s about opening old wounds and examining the present-day scars.
It’s about hospital admissions and personal ones. 
It’s about blowing up your life and stitching it back together.
It’s about being a doctor and being a patient.
It’s about 300 pages long. 

It’s every bit as good as it’s predecessor!

This isn’t a book for the faint hearted, it is a must read that blends humour with some bleak realities, which makes for a book that is gripping and really bloody funny.

Picking up after Adam’s walked away from his career, the narrative moves between the past and present. It’s a man who’s at a major crossroads in his life who is reflecting on past experiences and how he’s got to where he is.

There are some graphic descriptions of his own medical mishaps – where he really should have gone to a doctor sooner – that had me cringing and howling in equal measure.

I liked how he took the time to look back at medical school. How even then there were those doubts about his chosen career and how he felt pressure to take a certain path in life.

It’s telling how even at that early stage; the mental health of young doctors isn’t really considered. Many struggle, doubt themselves, feel lonely; yet Kay describes a lack of support during those years.

You get the feeling he could quite easily have drowned himself had it not been for one superb staff member who took time notice when people were struggling.

I’d say it is a more personal book than This is going to hurt

He’s a man dealing with – or ignoring for some part – PTSD as result of past trauma he’s tried to bury and of course his previous job as a medic. He talks honestly about his history with an eating disorder and sexual assault, something that can’t have been easy. 

Once again, Kay puts the spotlight on the NHS, the pressure staff are under and the sacrifices they’re expected to make, the impact that job can have on your mental health (long after walking away from it).

He once again takes aim at various Health secretaries – to be fair they have been a long conga line of who’s who in human crap.

The NHS is still being failed by our government, the staff are still being let down, they’re underpaid, the system massively underfunded. The NHS is constantly being set up to fail by whatever incarnation we have of a conservative government – the staff are at breaking point; but hey we clapped on our doorsteps every week during the pandemic, so I guess that’s okay.

Once again, Kay leaves his readers with plenty to think about at the end of this book. It tackles tough, deeply personal subjects. It’s interesting and compelling.

A lot of this book is about bravery, having the courage to walk away from something that the whole world is telling you you’d be stupid to. Having the courage to start again and rebuild a life.

Read it, you won’t regret it!

P.S Adam Kay gets extra points for finally giving me a diagnosis on my weird hand condition I had over a decade ago…Pompholx. Thanks for solving the mystery!

radiosarahc View All

Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Undoctored by Adam Kay Leave a comment

    • It shouldn’t do –

      I’d definitely say you need to have read the first book. He kind of explains how different roles work but not in a way that’s overly complicated because tbh I had no idea about certain things and that one explains why he left in the first place.

      The only thing to remember about the NHS, free healthcare, it works in theory but not under this government.


  1. Both sound interesting. My daughter is pediatric ER nurse (12 years now). She has “pee your pants” funny stories and tear jerkers. Unfortunately, there is a common theme these books and her stories, mismanagemnt of patient care, and hospital operations by management and the government.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve heard a lot about ‘This Is Going To Hurt’ and even started watching the tv series (which didn’t fully work for me but I’ll revisit it) but will perhaps have to give the book a read first. This follow-up sounds really great too; it must be hard to walk away from working in medicine but it seems that Adam Kay has found another calling. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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