New series shows the reality of hospital cost-cutting

Ben Wishaw in This is Going to Hurt
Ben Whishaw as medical registrar Adam Kay, coping with impossible conditions in the cash-strapped British NHS. Image supplied

This Is Going To Hurt
Written by Adam Kay
Starring Ben Whishaw, Ambika Mod, Rory Fleck Byrne, Alex Jennings, Tom Durant Pritchard
Streaming from June 2 through Binge

Adam Kay, the writer of this TV series and the books upon which it is based, worked as a British National Health Service (NHS) obstetrics and gynaecology hospital resident then registrar from 2004–10.

He gave up medicine to become a writer after a patient suffered an undiagnosed birth complication that resulted in a still birth. He collected diaries that he wrote while working in the hospital system and reworked them into his series of best-selling memoirs called This Is Going To Hurt.

As shown here, he endured 97-hour-long work weeks, pushing himself sleeplessly while dealing with terrifying responsibilities. Adding to his emotional load was the complication of living as a closeted gay man.

Nobody watching this program could be under any illusions of the effects of hospital funding cutbacks. The sight of doctors standing in a pool of a patient’s blood in an operating theatre clarifies that.

The series is set in the British NHS, but neoliberal funding cuts are similarly disastrous for Australian health systems.

Australian Medical Association President Dr Omar Khorshid says a 28 years-long cost-cutting trend has created over-crowded public hospitals and long waiting lists for emergency and elective surgery.

NSW nurses and midwives have been striking for safe nurse-to-patient ratios. They point out that COVID-19 did not cause our current health crisis.

COVID-19 caused an already stretched health system to falter. It is surviving in large part due to dedicated and overworked staff, who are unable to take leave and are struggling with higher than safe ratios.

This Is Going To Hurt is by turns gripping, funny and confronting. And it illustrates that across the world we desperately need an adequately funded health care system, for patients and health care workers.