'I am a junior doctor. It is 4 a.m. I have run arrest calls, treated life-threatening bleeding, held the hand of a young woman dying of cancer, scuttled down miles of dim corridors wanting to sob with sheer exhaustion, forgotten to eat, forgotten to drink, drawn on every fibre of strength that I possess to keep my patients safe from harm.'
How does it feel to be spat out of medical school into a world of pain, loss and trauma that you feel wholly ill-equipped to handle?
To be a medical novice who makes decisions which - if you get them wrong - might forever alter, or end, a person's life?
To toughen up the hard way, through repeated exposure to life-and-death situations, until you are finally a match for them?
In this heartfelt, deeply personal account of life as a junior doctor in today's health service, former television journalist turned doctor, Rachel Clarke, captures the extraordinary realities of ordinary life on the NHS front line. From the historic junior doctor strikes of 2016 to the 'humanitarian crisis' declared by the Red Cross, the overstretched health service is on the precipice, calling for junior doctors to draw on extraordinary reserves of what compelled them into medicine in the first place - and the value the NHS can least afford to lose - kindness.
Your Life in My Hands is at once a 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 and those who support it. This extraordinary memoir offers a glimpse into a life spent between the operating room and the bedside, the mortuary and the doctors' mess, telling powerful truths about today's NHS frontline, and capturing with tenderness and humanity the highs and lows of a new doctor's first steps onto the wards in the context of a health service at breaking point - and what it means to be entrusted with carrying another's life in your hands.
'Eloquent and moving' - Henry Marsh
'There have been many books written by young doctors... but none comes close to Clarke's' - Sunday Times
'From the very heart of the NHS comes this brilliant insight into the continuing crisis in the health service. Rachel Clarke writes as the accomplished journalist she once was and as the leading junior doctor she now is - writing with humanity and compassion that at times reduced me to tears.' - Jon Snow, Channel 4 News
'Dr Clarke has written a blockbuster, a page-turner, a tear-jerker. This is a "from-the-heart" front-line account of the human cost of the wanton erosion of a magnificent ideal - healthcare free at the point of need, funded through public taxation, available to all - made real in the UK for near 70 years. It is a love-song for the wonderful National Health Service that has embodied - to an extent equalled nowhere in the world - the principle that healthcare is not a commodity but a great duty of state.' - Prof. Neena Modi, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
'A powerful account of life on the NHS frontline. If only Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt could see the passion behind the people in the NHS, they might stop treating them as the enemy, and understand that without them we don't have an NHS worth the name.' - Alastair Campbell