“Beyond hilarious . . . A small-but-perfectly formed follow-up to This is Going to Hurt, this Christmas-themed delight continues to capture the dark humour and dedicated work of NHS professionals everywhere.”


Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas is the latest book from Adam Kay, whose début, This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor is a heart-breaking and hilarious, million-copy, bestseller. Published in time for Christmas presents and stocking fillers, Adam Kay’s Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas is a small book packed full of festive diaries entries from his years spent working for the NHS over Christmas and New Year.

In total, Adam Kay spent six years on the wards over the Christmas period, working every Christmas day. This collection of diaries in this book spans those six Christmasses and is broken up into 7 sections, one for each of the Christmasses he worked for the NHS on Christmas Day and the one final, following Christmas which serves as a reflection on the past six years.

Each section of the book is introduced with a rhyming couplet in a parody of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’, except Adam Kay’s own couplets give a comedic insight into what patient mishaps befall the junior doctor this year. Each couplet and each diary break is also accompanied by festive illustrations by Stephanie von Reiswitz, that all cleverly incorporate a medical tool in some way.

Much like This is Going to Hurt, Adam Kay’s Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas is full of hilariously funny and painfully cringe-worthy anecdotes of patient mishaps, many of which contain a festive twist, that as a doctor Kay certainly didn’t see coming. “In my first book, This is Going to Hurt, the most common reason for entries being omitted included ‘too disgusting’ or ‘too Christmassy’. Here I make amends for both,” writes the author in the book’s introduction.

Adam Kay’s festive, medical sequel is not only outrageously funny but, as we also saw in This is Going to Hurt, the author uses his platforms to make commentary about society and the amazing people working for the NHS. He stresses the importance of funding, fair wages and fair working hours for the National Health Service.

His book also serves as a reminder of the sacrifices NHS staff make every year to ensure that everyone else in the country can have a happy, healthy and safe Christmas. In the conclusion of Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas, Kay writes, “My proposal would be to find some way of acknowledging the fact that at Christmas half a million NHS staff will be spending the day at work… and the majority who aren’t will soon be sacrificing their Boxing Days and New Year’s Eves.” In its own small way, Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas does exactly that, it acknowledges all the NHS staff working over the holidays and reminds readers that HNS staff are all human beings and deserve to be treated with respect.

For anyone who enjoyed the laughter, heart-breaking stories and tears that This is Going to Hurt bought readers, Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas is the perfect book to give this Christmas. For anyone who has spent a Christmas working on the wards of NHS hospitals, this book “is a love letter to all those who spent their festive season on the front line, removing babies and baubles from the various places they get stuck, at the most wonderful time of the year.”


Reviewed by:

Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog

Added 6th August 2020

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