“This book is the literary equivalent of the Clap For Carers, a love letter to NHS workers written by grateful celebrities.”


Curated and Edited by Adam Kay – former Junior Doctor and the author of This is Going to Hurt and ‘Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas – Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You is a book that pays tribute to the UK’s single greatest achievement as a country, the National Health Service which, for anyone across the globe who doesn’t know, provides free healthcare to all upon delivery. Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You does almost exactly what it says in the title, the book is a collection of writing from 109 household names including; Ed Sheeran, David Tennant, Dame Julie Walters, Emma Watson, Malala Yousafzai, and Dame Emma Thompson, to express their thanks to the UK’s National Health Service.

The amazing cover that features on the front of the book also boasts another household name. The artwork was shared by the elusive street artist, Banksy to depict the heroic NHS workers during the pandemic.

The book was first published in July 2020 during the global Coronavirus pandemic which put a huge strain on our NHS and reminded much of the UK public how important this publicly funded service is. The words written in each letter, essay or story go some way to express to the over 1.4 million people working for the NHS who go above and beyond the call of duty every single day how much we appreciate them. As Stephen Fry so eloquently writes, “Did we need a pandemic to be reminded?”

The fact that over 100 people contributed to this book is in itself a testament to how much the NHS, and the care people receive through it, impacts the lives of people throughout the country. The letters, essays, stories, poems, and even scripts themselves provide many different insights and experiences of the NHS from mundane and often comedic general check-ups to life-changing, life-saving care. What each of these pieces has in common though is the gratitude and the heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in the care received, from the nurses, doctors and surgeons to the porter, cleaners and volunteers.

Adam Kay’s introduction brings his usual dry, somewhat sarcastic humour – that many readers will recognise from This is Going to Hurt – to the book, while the rest of the contributors bring their own voice and emotions to the pages. No matter what your experience with the NHS is, there is bound to be a piece of writing (or several) that you can relate to on some level.

A warning to anyone who, like me, is a little squeamish when it comes to descriptions of injuries etc. there are some pieces that may be triggering. For example, I found myself having to very lightly skim read Greg Wise’s piece (sorry).

Every single person who works in the NHS or as a carer is a hero and the Dear NHS book is a way of saying thank you. All profits from this book will go to NHS Charities Together to fund vital research and projects, and The Lullaby Trust which supports parents bereaved of babies and young children.

Full list of contributors: Dolly Alderton, Monica Ali, Kate Atkinson, Pam Ayres, David Baddiel, Johanna Basford, Mary Beard, William Boyd, Frankie Boyle, Jo Brand, Kevin Bridges, Alex Brooker, Charlie Brooker, Rob Brydon, Bill Bryson, Kathy Burke, Peter Capaldi, Jimmy Carr, Candice Carty-Williams, Lauren Child, Lee Child, Bridget Christie, Emilia Clarke, Rev Richard Coles, Daisy May Cooper, Jilly Cooper, Fearne Cotton, Juno Dawson, Kit de Waal, Victoria Derbyshire, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Chris Evans, Anne Fine, Martin Freeman, Dawn French, Stephen Fry, Mark Gatiss, Ricky Gervais, Professor Green, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Mark Haddon, Matt Haig, The Hairy Bikers, Naomie Harris, Miranda Hart, Victoria Hislop, Nick Hornby, Sali Hughes, Konnie Huq, Marina Hyde, E L James, Greg James, Sir David Jason, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Jackie Kay, Peter Kay, Lorraine Kelly, Marian Keyes, Shappi Khorsandi, Nish Kumar, Stewart Lee, Joanna Lumley, Lee Mack, Emily Maitlis, Andrew Marr, Catherine Mayer, Alexander McCall Smith, Paul McCartney, Sir Trevor McDonald, Caitlin Moran, Kate Mosse, Jojo Moyes, David Nicholls, John Niven, Graham Norton, Chris O’Dowd, Dermot O’Leary, Jamie Oliver, Sir Michael Palin, Maxine Peake, Sue Perkins, Katie Piper, Ian Rankin, Jonathan Ross, Ed Sheeran, Paul Sinha, Frank Skinner, Matthew Syed, Kae Tempest, David Tennant, Louis Theroux, Dame Emma Thompson, Sandi Toksvig, Stanley Tucci, KT Tunstall, Johnny Vegas, Danny Wallace, Dame Julie Walters, Phil Wang, Emma Watson, Mark Watson, Robert Webb, Irvine Welsh, Jack Whitehall, Josh Widdicombe, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Greg Wise, Malala Yousafzai, Benjamin Zephaniah.


Reviewed by:

Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog

Added 12th February 2021

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Catherine Muxworthy