Adam Kay offered visitors to The Emergency Services Show a heart-wrenching and hilarious talk on his years in medicine. With his colloquial manner, speaking with his mic in his hand, pacing the stage confidently and cracking jokes, the audience was captivated by his insightful speech.
Speaking about his experience as a doctor in the NHS, Adam provided the audience with snippets of his best-seller, This is Going to Hurt, featuring humorous and quick-witted stories of odd injuries that occurred when working in medicine. The large audience fed off Adam’s energy, laughing at his off-hand comments, as though they were at one of his stand-up shows.
Amid these laughable moments, he was able to bring a serious tone to his show, opening up on his mental health, difficulties getting support with the NHS and the challenges of being a junior doctor. In his book he wrote poignantly,
‘If the system was more supportive, I think I would still be in medicine.’
Mental health was at the heart of Adam’s talk, the audience fell silent when he spoke about working a tireless shift in the ER, asking his boss to work part-time due to his mental stress and being turned down. Adam deftly used his own experience to show the struggles of burnout on junior doctors.
Mental health support
According to data from the BMA published in April 2022, 62 per cent of junior doctors said they were currently suffering from depression, anxiety, emotional distress, or another mental health condition, relating to or made worse by their work or study. Adam advises people in the medicine sector to get help if they need it, revealing how he worked with the former Health Secretary Matt Hancock to set up a phone number for junior doctors to call if they are struggling.
When interviewed by theatre host Catherine Levin, Adam opened up about his eating disorder, showcasing the struggles the comedian has overcome. He asked,
“When you’re constantly looking after others, when is there time for yourself?”
While Adam provides a realistic overview of working in the NHS, he also admires it, saying working in medicine is extremely rewarding and one of the best jobs a person can make, reinforcing the title of his session, ‘A Love Letter to the NHS’. He further spoke about his BBC comedy-drama, which is a direct adaptation of This is Going to Hurt. The narrative follows a fictionalised version of Adam who struggles while working in the NHS. Adam told the audience the show is intended to show the effect of a system on a person, and to act as a cautionary tale.
Adam Kay ultimately caught the audience through his wonderful stage presence, witty commentary, and vulnerable openness, leaving the audience with much to think about.