Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas Book Summary - Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas Book explained in key points
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Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas summary

Adam Kay

Festive hospital diaries

4.4 (91 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

'Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay is a collection of heart-warming, gut-wrenching and hilarious stories from the author's six years of experience working as a junior doctor during the festive season in the NHS.

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    Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas
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    NHS Hospitals attempt to partake in the festive cheer – with disturbing results.

    Once a year, at the end of December, the British public collectively succumbs to a fever dream of festivity, trading its usual tight-lipped demeanor for uncharacteristic cheer and goodwill. 

    For two weeks, all the normal standards of behavior are turned on their head. People go spelunking into their wardrobes to dredge up the most garish clothing they can find; they actively seek out the relatives they spend most of the year avoiding; and the concept of daily routine goes out the window, replaced with family board games and carb-induced coma-naps – this is the only time of year the British practice siesta.   

    It’s a normal and beloved part of British life. But even though the rest of the country’s infrastructure is declining into seasonal dysfunction, health services are too vital for hospitals to close their doors for a week or two. That doesn’t stop them from trying to partake in some of the Christmas cheer. Unfortunately, however, festivity combines with the gore and tragedy of a hospital about as well as eggnog combines with amniotic fluid.

    Take the festive sweaters that many wear in the ward, for example – in close proximity, they cause the air to crackle with static electricity, transforming people into human van de Graaff generators. It’s also somewhat unnerving for patients to be given serious medical diagnoses by people wearing novelty apparel. Would you want your prostate examined by a man wearing a Rudolf sweater?  

    Things don’t improve much when it comes to ambiance. Many hospitals get festooned with morbid facsimiles of standard Christmas decorations, things like wreaths fashioned from unrolled condoms and Christmas tree angels sporting umbilical cords.

    One year, the nurses in the author’s ward adorned googly eyes and red noses to several specula – devices used to open orifices – to create the world's creepiest looking reindeer. 

    Another misguided attempt at creating a festive feel in the ward led to a whole room having to be evacuated and deep cleaned. The cinnamon and mulled-wine scented diffuser mingled with the hospital smells of blood, placenta, and feces to produce a stench as potent as noxious gas.

    Of course, there are some touching moments to be found as well. There was a tradition in the author’s ward for the head surgeon to slice a turkey in the break room while asking a nurse to pass him each utensil one at a time as though performing surgery – “Knife please.”

    Christmas in the ward might not be as cozy as at home, but given the circumstances, it’s good enough.

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    What is Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas about?

    Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas (2019) details the bizarre and tragic experiences of a doctor working for the British National Health Service, known as the NHS, during the dreaded Christmas shifts. Providing a hilarious and eye-opening behind-the-scenes glimpse into the pandemonium that envelops hospital wards around the United Kingdom during the festive period, it also pays tribute to all the NHS staff who sacrifice their holidays each year to save lives, deliver babies, and remove Christmas paraphernalia from places it doesn't belong.

    Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas Review

    'Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas (2019) by Adam Kay is a delightful and eye-opening book that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the challenging world of healthcare during the holiday season. Here's why this book is worth your time:

    • It provides a humorous and honest portrayal of the ups and downs faced by medical professionals, bringing both laughter and tears.
    • The book offers insightful stories and anecdotes that shed light on the dedication and resilience of those working on the frontlines.
    • With its unique blend of wit and compassion, the book will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the unsung heroes of healthcare.

    Who should read Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas?

    • Christmas celebrators searching for some light-hearted antics
    • Britons who commiserate with the hard-working people keeping the NHS afloat
    • Anyone curious to take a glimpse into the tumultuous life of the average hospital ward

    About the Author

    Adam Kay is a British screenwriter, author, and stand-up comedian. He’s also a former NHS doctor who has incorporated his experiences into his writing and stand-up routines. He’s the author of the acclaimed runaway hit This is Going to Hurt, which is currently being adapted into a comedy-drama for BBC2.

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    Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas FAQs 

    What is the main message of Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas?

    The main message of Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas is an honest and heartfelt account of working in the healthcare industry during the holiday season.

    How long does it take to read Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas?

    The reading time for Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas is a compelling and poignant book that offers a unique insight into the challenges faced by healthcare professionals. It is definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas?

    The author of Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas is Adam Kay.