John Blake is publishing a junior doctor's memoir, Your Life in My Hands, it says captures "the extraordinary realities of life on the NHS frontline" at a time of "unprecedented crisis".
The book follows the journey of television journalist turned junior doctor, Rachel Clarke, exploring how she first dealt with the responsibility that her decisions could forever alter, or end, a person's life; the repeated exposure to life-and-death situations, and how she has battled to protect her patients in the "increasingly precarious, underfunded" NHS.
Framed by last year’s historic junior doctor strikes, Your Life in My Hands is described as an "at once powerful polemic on the systematic degradation of Britain’s most vital public institution and a love letter of optimism and hope to that same health service", the publisher said.
Clarke, who campaigned last year against a contract being imposed on young doctors by government, said: “Being a doctor is an absolute privilege, an NHS doctor even more so. Every day I see the very best of humanity in my patients and their families – their strength, courage and kindness. But NHS staff have nothing more to give. I am terrified that if we are stretched any more thinly, the NHS will break.”
The book, offering insight into both the highs and lows of a new doctor’s first steps onto the wards, and what it means to be entrusted with another’s life in your hands, follows in footsteps of other medical memoirs, such as Paul Kalanithi's memoir When Breath Becomes Air, written by its late author as he approached the completion of his training. It chronicled his journey as a young doctor from literature student to neurosurgeon and became a NYT bestseller. It was also shortlisted this month for the £30,000 2017 Wellcome Book Prize.
Transworld this month announced it will publish In Shock, a memoir by US critical care doctor Rana Awdish, telling the story of its author's transition from doctor to patient. And, strangely enough, Picador acquired in January the diaries of a junior doctor - now turned-comedian, Adam Kay - that was originally called Your Life in My Hands under a working title but has since been renamed This is Going to Hurt. The book is the product of a diary Kay kept throughout his training, interspersing tales from the front line of the NHS with reflections on the current crisis. It publishes in September, while John Blake's Your Life in My Hands publishes in July (£16.99)
Editor James Hodgkinson acquired world rights for the book from Lauren Gardner at Bell Lomax Moreton.
Hodgkinson said: “When Rachel tentatively handed in her first draft, I was by turns enthralled, devastated and uplifted by what she had written. Her book is a unique, transformative insight into what it truly is for a young doctor to be plunged daily into confronting life, death and the struggles in between them. It has been a privilege to work with Rachel on Your Life in My Hands, and I'm genuinely proud that we are publishing her. “