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Why the BBC’s This is Going to Hurt Should be Added to Your Watch List

In 2022, legal action against doctors and GPs is increasingly common and, in this article, we’ll explain why the BBC’s This Is Going To Hurt should be added to your watch list.

Photo by National Cancer Institute from Unsplash

TV medical dramas are nothing new, however, BBC’s smash hit, This Is Going To Hurt, has turned the genre on its head. Shortlisted for the Best Drama award at this month’s Edinburgh TV Awards, the show follows hospital gynecologist, Adam, as he tries to survive being sued for negligence by a patient.

In 2022, ‘how to sue your GP’ is an increasingly common internet search term. This series allows viewers to have a raw insight into the job role to help understand how mistakes happen in the first place.

Here we will discuss some of the hardships faced by doctors in the UK and around the world. There may be some spoilers for those who haven’t yet watched the series…

A Real Insight to Hardships Faced By Doctors

Based on Adam Kay’s non-fiction book of the same name, This Is Going To Hurt offers an insight into the life of a hospital doctor and, while comical at times, touches on the very real hardships that the job entails, including:

Long Hours

Hospital doctors and other personnel work extremely long hours, and never more so than during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first episode of the program, we see Adam finishing a day shift then briefly stopping in at a friend’s stag do before returning to the hospital to work the night shift.

Watching the show, we can see how physically and mentally exhausted the young doctor is as he battles fatigue in order to treat his patients.

“I’ve not sat down for twelve hours, let alone rested my eyes, my dinner’s sitting uneaten in my locker and I’ve just called a midwife ‘Mum’ by accident.”

― Adam Kay, This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

Abuse Faced at Work

Photo by Benjamin Lehman from Unsplash

The TV program highlights the fact that doctors face verbal and sometimes physical abuse from patients and their families on a regular basis, including, as with episode one of This Is Going To Hurt, racial abuse, as experienced by trainee doctor, Shruti who receives a verbal, racist tirade while delivering her first baby.

Increasing Mental Health Issues

A recent survey revealed that 44% of UK doctors suffer from mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression as well as being at a very real risk of burnout. Constantly battling exhaustion while literally having their patients’ lives in their hands puts doctors under an incredible amount of pressure which can often lead to them having to leave the profession for the sake of their health.

“Doctors must be psychologically fit for the job — able to make decisions under a terrifying amount of pressure, able to break bad news to us anguished relatives, able to deal with death on a daily basis. They must have something that cannot be memorized and graded; a great doctor must have a huge heart and a distended aorta which pumps a vast lake of compassion and human kindness.”

― Adam Kay, This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

Threat of Legal Action for Mistakes

Photo by Philippe Spitalier from Unsplash

In This Is Going To Hurt, Adam finds himself facing possible legal action which could possibly end his career before it has really begun. When he accidentally sends a patient home, it is subsequently discovered that she should have received urgent treatment.

The situation is escalated when the patient’s sister files a complaint with the hospital against Adam, who doesn’t help the situation when he tries to convince her to withdraw the complaint.

In the period 2020 to 2021, there were 12,629 clinical or negligence claims filed against the NHS – a staggering increase of 133% from the 2006 to 2007 period. In 2022, people are more aware of their rights than ever before, including the fact that, should they fall victim to a clinical error or medical negligence, they may be entitled to a considerable amount of compensation.

While patients should, of course, have recourse in the event of an error or negligence, this puts an intense amount of pressure on doctors and other staff.

Personal Relationships Suffering

In This Is Going To Hurt, Adam tries to save his ailing relationship with Harry by getting engaged. The stressful nature of the job as well as the long hours that a doctor works are rarely a recipe for a long and successful relationship. In fact, 24% of doctors and 37% of nurses in the UK have been divorced.

In the program, Adam is finally forced to choose between the job that he loves and his relationship with Harry and, unfortunately, finds himself saying goodbye to his fiancé as he is not ready to leave the world of medicine. This is sadly a choice that many medical professionals face as there is simply not enough time in their lives for both.

Mistakes in NHS Hospitals are Somewhat Inevitable

When you’re responsible for other people’s lives, there’s no avoiding the fact that you’re going to experience an above average level of stress, however, in the UK, working conditions for doctors and medical professionals are particularly tough in 2022.

Stress and long hours can often be a recipe for disaster and can have devastating results for patient lives as well as distressing litigation for hard working doctors. This Is Going To Hurt is a very real (if at times amusing) reminder of just what’s at stake for UK doctors as they battle to save their patients’ lives while keeping hold of their jobs.


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