Engage: Book chronicling struggles of NHS workforce wins big at national awards

A book which chronicles the struggles of NHS staff and the politics surrounding the health service has been honoured at the National Book Awards.

Comedian and former doctor Adam Kay (pictured) earned three awards at the ceremony, hosted by Zoe Ball, for his diaries titled This Is Going To Hurt, penned during his medical career and published in response to Government clashes with junior doctors.

An often-humorous exploration of the realities facing health service staff, the book has earned Kay awards for New Writer Of The Year, Popular Nonfiction Book Of The Year, and the Book Club Book Of The Year.

Novelist Philip Pullman was crowned Author Of The Year, and was honoured alongside inspiring stories for young boys, and a collection of feminist essays. The writer behind the His Dark Materials trilogy was given the award for his work on its prequel, The Book Of Dust.

Pullman, 72, has followed up his fantasy trilogy after a nearly two-decade gap, and part one of the work chronicling a fight against a theocratic power, La Belle Sauvage, has been honoured at the annual awards.

The outspoken critic of religion was revealed as the Author Of The Year at a ceremony at the British Institute in London, and was named ahead of contenders including JK Rowling, Jacqueline Wilson and Sebastian Faulks.

Irish writer Sally Rooney claimed the crown of Best International Author for Normal People, and Best Audiobook went to Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time, read by screen star Benedict Cumberbatch. Stories For Boys Who Dare To Be Different, by Ben Brooks and illustrated by Quinton Winter, was named Children’s Book Of The Year.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman, was named the Popular Fiction Book Of The Year, beating off competition from the likes of Graham Norton.

The Autobiography or Biography Of The Year was revealed as Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love, which was selected over contenders including My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen.

A collection of writings on women’s issues and the subject of feminism, collated by Scarlett Curtis, Feminists Don’t Wear Pink won the award for Young Adult Book of the Year.

Belinda Bauer’s novel Snap was named as the Crime/Thriller Book of the Year, and chef and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi claimed the award for Food & Drink Book of the Year with Ottolenghi Simple.


Award-winning comic writer Adam Kay has warned that a cash-starved NHS needs help or the UK could be left with a health system where “the people who have least suffer the most”.

The former junior doctor has swept the National Book Awards for his witty and observant journal This Is Going To Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor.

On the night he was named New Writer Of The Year, as well as being awarded Popular Nonfiction Book Of The Year, and the Book Club Book Of The Year, the author said that the NHS needs funding and political will to ensure its survival.

Kay, who appeared at the awards in a suit resembling a set of scrubs, released his diaries charting the struggles of medical staff last year, following two years of clashes between Government and junior doctors.

He believes that the people and the Government need to decide what kind of healthcare they want to see in the UK.

Kay said: “I think we need to have a big grown-up conversation as a country about what we want the NHS to provide. On its 70th birthday, I hope we decide that we want what it was founded for, free at the point of service on the basis of clinical need not bank balance.

“If we want that, we need to put our hands in our pockets and pay a bit more. Or, which I hope doesn’t happen, we don’t want bit pay a bit more. In which case there is a shortfall, there is a two-tiered system, and the people who have least suffer the most.”

Kay has claimed that in the years following the 2010 general election, spending on the NHS has been insufficient, and the problems highlighted in his book have become more prevalent.

The former junior doctor has said that it is lack of funding, and not purported drains on the system such as health tourism, which is undermining the NHS.

He said: “We’ve had eight years of starvation, a system that was never flush with cash is now extremely stretched.

“We need to put our hands in our pocket. It’s heart-breaking to hear about things like health tourism, what a horrible phrase. It’s a third of one percent of the NHS budget.

“The problem isn’t medicines getting more expensive. The problem isn’t that the population are getting older. The problem is that we’ve had eight years of not having enough money to tread water.”

Kay has turned his pen to comic work, including Crims and Mrs Brown’s Boys, as well as performing in live shows.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Pan Macmillan.