Dr Phil Hammond
Phil was revalidated by the GMC in September 2013. Below is the feedback from his colleagues and patients, and real time feedback from my patient(s) is here.
UPCOMING COMEDY TOUR DATES
20 Waterside Arts Centre, Sale 0161 912 5616
15 Old Town Hall, High Wycombe 01494 512 000
17 Selby Town Hall 01757 708449
30 Frome Memorial Theatre 01373 462795
DR PHIL HAMMOND. GAMES TO PLAY WITH YOUR DOCTOR Press Release
URGENT – The NHS needs you!
Politicians lie to us. The NHS is for sale. As the great Professor Harry Keen put it: ‘They are holding the NHS under water until the bubbles stop rising’, and the staff are too stressed and fearful to stop the sleepwalk towards privatisation. Patients (that’s you, that is) are the only people left who can save the NHS. With a lot of humour and not too much ranting, Dr Phil will wake you up and show you how, through a series of games, you can do your bit to win the war.
To reclaim the NHS patients need power, and Dr Phil will teach you how to grab your doctor’s attention and be the star of the show in your own consultations. No more staring at your feet and feeling like a spare part. You’ll be front and centre in the NHS. Learn how to diagnose your doctor , sing your symptoms, play dead and get out of the NHS alive – all through Dr Phil’s highly subversive guerrilla tactics, some of which are counter-productive and may get you removed from the premises. But at least they’re not boring.
Once you’ve mastered the art of being an assertive patient, you’re ready to take on the politicians. Dr Phil takes you on an incredible journey into the Heath Robinson monster that is the NHS reforms, where lurks the Laminate of Lansley and the Big Red Ball of Blame. On the way you’ll meet some incredible patient campaigners and whistleblowers who’ve tried to stand up to the Big Beast. But who is this evil controlling mind behind this wanton demolition of our nation’s greatest asset and our only major post-war contribution to civilisation (apart from The Beatles and Mo Farah)? You will discover but can you destroy? Or at least ask him nicely to take his hands off the windpipe.
Saving the NHS is the Greatest Game of All, and there are 63.7 million players. Our health service may be held underwater, but with your help, the bubbles will never stop rising. So come inside Dr Phil’s bubble for a hilarious 90 minute consultation. Free dentures (lie).
Phil Hammond is a GP turned hospital doctor, writer, broadcaster and comedian. He has been Private Eye’s medical correspondent for over 20 years and has appeared on Have I Got News for You, The News Quiz, The Now Show, The One Show and Countdown. In 2013, he cured the entire nation on BBC1’s Long Live Britain.
Phil Hammond first ripped into health secretary Andrew Lansley about his misguided ‘reforms’ in October 2011 on BBC 1’s Question Time. Since then, Lansley has been sacked as Health Secretary and Hammond lost his job as a GP. Lansley is now Leader of the Commons, Hammond works in a specialist NHS unit for children with chronic fatigue syndrome/ME. Hammond’s blood pressure rose to dangerously high levels after Question Time and – in the organisational chaos that followed - it would not come down to safe levels. Dr Phil is now a patient, on two pills a day for life. Thank you, Andrew Lansley.
The Lansley exchange, and the unfurling of the Laminate of Lansley, will take place on stage if Dr Phil’s blood pressure can handle it
Phil is also writing a book. ‘Staying Alive – How to Get Better Care from the NHS’ – which will be published in May next year by Quercus
Praise for Dr Phil’s previous offerings
“One of the most entertainingly subversive people on the planet.” The Guardian
“Tough on doctors, patients and politicians. And he’s funny.” The Telegraph
“Sceptical, irreverent, very funny and like a mighty gush of fresh air in a field that’s bedevilled with cover ups and cloaked in a vow of silence” Time Out
“Generates dozens of laughs and more ire than any amount of tentative taboo-breaching” The Financial Times
‘If Dr Phil were a medicine, you should swig him by the litre’ **** The Times
‘Consistently funny’ ***** The Sunday Telegraph
“You’ll never see a doctor in quite the same way again.” ***** The Scotsman
FFI and NEW TOUR VENUES, CONTACT MARC SIMMONSSON firstname.lastname@example.org 0207 497 0849
Phil Hammond is a doctor, journalist, broadcaster and comedian. He qualified as a GP in 1991 and currently works in a specialist NHS centre for children and adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome/ME. Phil is also a presenter on BBC Radio Bristol and has been Private Eye’s medical correspondent since 1992, campaigning for open data in the NHS and better support for whistleblowers. He is a Vice President of the Patients’ Association and a patron of Meningitis UK, the Doctors’ Support Network, the Herpes Viruses Association, Patients First and Kissing It Better.
Phil presented five series of Trust Me, I’m a Doctor on BBC2 and has appeared regularly on Have I Got News for You, The News Quiz, The Now Show, The One Show and Countdown. Recently, he presented a film on the NHS reforms for Inside Out (BBC1). He has been a Lecturer in Medical Communication at the Universities of Bristol and Birmingham, and still teaches medical students. Phil’s Radio 4 sitcom about GPs struggling with the NHS reforms – Polyoaks – was written with David Spicer and has just been commissioned for a third series. Phil tours chilly provincial theatres in the UK as a comedian, has written three books – Medicine Balls, Trust Me, I’m (Still) a Doctor and Sex, Sleep or Scrabble? – and released two DVDs (Dr Phil’s Rude Health Show and Confessions of a Doctor).
His recipe for NHS reform is a lot simpler than the Health and Social Care Act
1. Stop killing patients
2. Harm patients as little as possible
3. Before doing anything, ask not just ‘is it likely to work?’ but ‘is it humane?’
4. Train and motivate the front-line staff, make sure there are enough of them and look after their mental health
POLYOAKS HAS BEEN RECOMMISSIONED BY RADIO 4 FOR A THIRD SERIES – DUE FOR BROADCAST IN JUNE 2014
‘SHOOT THE MESSENGER’ – A PRIVATE EYE SPECIAL INVESTIGATION BY PHIL HAMMOND AND ANDREW BOUSFIELD INTO HOW NHS WHISTLEBLOWERS ARE SILENCED AND SACKED WAS SHORTLISTED FOR THE MARTHA GELLHORN PRIZE FOR JOURNALISM 2011. AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD HERE Shoot_the_Mesenger_FINAL
These action shots were taken in 1988, by photographer Homer Sykes, when glasses were riduclously big and babies were ridiculously slippery. If you think you might be one of them, please let me know. You may be entitled to compensation.
My toughest case: Baby Phil
Early in my medical career, in-between stitching my glove onto the top of a man’s head and watching my spectacles fall into an open wound, I realised a career in surgery probably wasn’t for me. So I joined a GP training scheme and prepared for a life of therapeutic gossip and viral probability. But to get there, I still had to do two years of hospital jobs, starting with the most inappropriate one imaginable; 6 months on a special care baby unit.
It was the toughest time of my life, trying to put drips, drains, tubes and catheters in the tiniest of babies. Luckily, the nurses saw me coming and when it was quiet, we’d swap roles. They’d do all the high-tech fiddly stuff and I’d fetch the coffee and Hobnobs. But when it was busy, I’d be called into action. In 1988, the training mantra was ‘see one, do one, teach one’. As one consultant advised: ‘If you’re not sure what you’re doing, put on a mask of relaxed brilliance.’ But no mask can calm the panic of a premature birth and dash to special care.
The baby was 32 weeks and not breathing. I looked around for sister. Sister was busy with another baby. I’d done six successful intubations (passing a tube into the trachea to allow ventilation) but never on my own. I chose a tube, I picked up the laryngoscope and prayed my glasses would stay on my sweaty nose long enough to get a good view of the vocal cords. I eased the tube in and fate directed it to the correct hole. As the tiny lungs inflated, Mum placed a lump of amethyst next to her baby ‘for the healing energy.’ An unlikely juxtaposition, even for the West Country.
Some babies get rapidly better, others rapidly worse, but this baby remained in limbo for weeks, unable to come off the ventilator but hanging in there. I’d take blood and fiddle with the ventilator, willing him to thrive with science, while Mum brought in a succession of totems. Healing beads, horse’s hair, homeopathic creams. Nothing either of us did seemed to work. Then one morning, she stuck a picture of the Pope on the incubator and went for a coffee.
Sleep deprivation does odd things to the mind, and for some reason I decided to fashion the Pope a Jimmy Saville wig out of a yellow X-ray form. Sister spotted it, just as Mum returned, whipped it off and turned it upside down. “What’s that?” asks Mum. “It’s Dr Phil’s lucky horseshoe. He made it especially.” From that miraculous moment, her baby picks up. Within a week, he’s off the ventilator. Mum’s overwhelmed, Dad wants to name the baby after me and I’m presented me with an enormous box of chocolates. I give them to sister, obviously. Baby Phil may have escaped special care, but I’ve still got 5 months to survive.
Total Politics Q&A December 2010
If I Were Prime Minister…
What campaign stunt would you pull in a general election and why?
I’d offer babies MMR jabs while I kissed them, and their parents contraception. If we want to save the NHS and the planet, we need to focus on prevention.
Would you take part in a TV debate with leaders of other parties?
Only if bullying was outlawed. Picking on the one with poor social skills who can’t tell a joke is just cruel. Other than that, no notes, no podium, no rules. And I’d hold it in the Ring o’ Bells at Hinton Blewett, so I could have a couple of pints and walk home.
What would your winning political slogan be and why?
I’d rotate slogans. ‘Dogs not Drugs.’ ‘Bring Back Stairs.’ ‘Foreplay, foreplay, foreplay.’ Dogs and exercise are wonder drugs, especially together, and intimacy before taking the plunge is sadly neglected.
What would you travel around the country in and why?
I’d go round in the Popemobile, with the Pope driving. It’s the least he can do after we bank-rolled his visit. And what better way to hand out Dr Phil’s Easy-On Condoms (motto: ‘they roll both ways’)?
Who would be your Alastair Campbell and why?
Nate Borofsky from the band Girlyman. I don’t want to be surrounded by anger, aggression, blame and repressed homosexuality. Their music is full of liberation and joy, and lifts my mood better than any drug. I once advised Nick Clegg to get some Girlyman in his life and look where he is now.
Who would be your George Osborne and why?
Any one of my patients who somehow manages to live on £30 a week. We’re all in this together, ha, ha, ha.
Who would be in your cabinet and why?
I’d pick Shirley Williams and then let her pick the next person, and so on and so on until we had a love train.
What would you legalise and why?
I’d ensure breast feeding filled all those public spaces smoking has vacated. If more mums were able to do it for six months, it would have a profound effect on childhood health and obesity. But six months is a long time and you need to get out of the house. Currently, the public sign for breast feeding is a bottle. We couldn’t be more repressed. And I’d legalise sex work. We all need a minimum wage, the right to say no and a safe place to pleasure each other.
What would you ban and why?
Very bad food. No health service can cope with obesity. The trans-fatty gristle burger should be a class A drug. A Victoria sponge would be class C (you’re allowed a small slice yourself but you mustn’t push it onto other people). The punishment would be to work in a tall building with no lifts, but beautiful, clean, inspiring staircases.
How would you respond to being booed in public?
I’d savour it. Booing politicians is a fine example of safe and sustainable pleasure. For the recipient, it’s much better than indifference (but the dry cleaning bill is higher).
How would you deal with a sex scandal in the cabinet?
We need to grow up about sex. It’s only a scandal if it isn’t consensual. But I’d check they all know how to put a condom on properly. Harder than it looks, especially with fading eyesight.
What would you have as a new national anthem and why?
Love Train by the O Jays. If people all over the world joined hands and start a love train, it would solve most of our problems (although they might need help to put a condom on. I once met a sex worker who can do it with no hands, but most of us need at least three)
What would keep you awake at night and why?
Being reported to the General Medical Council by William Hague’s Press Secretary (it’s happened before, it could happen again. See Sex, Sleep or Scrabble? P 223)
Which pet would you get for No 10 and why?
Two Labradors. They give you unconditional love, keep you active, reduce your blood pressure and even lower your cholesterol (by eating your food). And if you’re too depressed to put your pants on in the morning, they lick your testicles. You don’t get that with Prozac. Or marriage. I’ve already got a golden on and a black one I could bring (that’s Labradors, not testicles)
How would you see off a younger, better looking political rival?
With one of Dr Phil’s Go Quickly Pills.
How would you increase participation in politics?
Explain what politics means. A hundred people, a hundred answers. To me, the central ethical dilemma in life/ sex/ politics/ religion/ healthcare is the responsible use of power. Only by connecting with people can you avoid abusing them. Failing that, I’d make a pledge before the election that affected them profoundly, then break it afterwards just to make them very angry and ‘engaged’.
Who would succeed you as PM?
Nate from Girlyman
What would your commemorative statue look like and be made of and why?
A pair of polished ginger balls, made out of cornelian, to remind us of the Cornelian dilemma at the heart of politics (being obliged to choose between two courses of action either of which will have a detrimental effect on yourself or on someone near to you).
What would you call your memoirs of being PM and why?
‘First do no harm, now give some pleasure.’ We’re all African apes on the briefest of joy rides, but to enjoy life we need to slow down and connect. The secret of pleasure is to pleasure others.
What legacy would you like to leave and why?
I’d only work 48 hours a week as PM. Workaholism is the hidden addiction in politics and the NHS. I’d donate the proceeds of Dr Phil’s Easy-On Condoms to the Herpes Viruses Association (of which I am patron). And I’d give people choice in dying. My wife Jo is also a GP and we have a pact: First one to put CDs in the toaster gets one of Dr Phil’s Go Quickly Pills. You get one free with my DVDs
David Milliband quits to spend time with secret ginger love child
‘Hello I’m Dr Phil’ ‘And I’m Dr Tony’ ‘We’re Struck Off and Die’
So started my first foray into the Edinburgh Fringe twenty years ago. My comedy partner, Tony Gardner, had been before as a student and knew how to survive in a sweltering Masonic lodge at midnight. I took a little longer to acclimatise but by the end of the run, we’d had rave reviews in the national press, been recorded by Radio 4 and were destined to be the next big thing in comedy.
That was the theory. Alas, when the Radio 4 show went out (rather unwisely after the Archers) it got a record number of complaints to the Broadcasting Standards Council, upheld as ‘inappropriate material for a comedy show.’ Radio 4 stuck with us, and we recorded three series of Struck Off and Die, winning a Writers’ Guild and Silver Sony Awards. But we couldn’t get into television. As one producer put it: ‘On the eve of your hip replacement, you don’t want to hear stories of knackered junior doctors cocking up, burning the notes, burying the X-rays and laughing it off in the mess.’
After five seasons at the Fringe, and three hearings at the BSC, we realised Radio 4 was as far as we were going. The reviews were still good, if a little divisive. ‘What makes this show rise above the rest is the genuine comic talent of Tony Gardner.’ I particularly enjoyed that one. Tony often made me corpse on stage and when the show went well, people would cry with laughter (at least I hope that’s what they were doing). But he needed to break out of the straightjacket of the medical revue. So he gave up the day job to try to make it as a professional actor.
Going from the most secure job in the world to the least never appealed to me, so I stuck with my GP training and continued in the comfort zone of medical humour. Tony got work in Armstrong and Miller, Lead Balloon and The Thick Of It, and landed the lead role in My Parents Are Aliens, while I looked at verrucas by day and peddled medical humour in chilly provincial theatres and corporate conferences at night. Having been very close, we drifted apart – partly because we now inhabited different worlds but also because comedy is very competitive, none more so than in a divorced double-act. You pretend to wish your ex-partner well but you secretly want him so struggle without you.
Since our last Struck Off and Die gig, a hospital party in a seedy Croydon hotel in 2001, Tony and I have barely spoken, which is ridiculous considering we were each other’s best men and Tony is Godfather to Will. As my wife Jo cheerfully put it: ‘If you die, shall I even tell him?’ So when my tour took me to Tony’s home city of Colchester in July, I suggested we go for a drink. I didn’t want him to be in the audience – that would really have thrown me – but in any case he was in London, rehearsing for Sheridan’s The Rivals. Ten years after Struck Off and Die, Tony would be touring with Sir Peter Hall and sharing the stage with Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles. They were reopening the refurbished Bath Theatre Royal. And I was telling knob gags in Colchester.
Tony didn’t suggest that I come, but I wanted to, and I wanted Will to meet him. Alas, by the time we booked, the only two tickets were A1 and A2. Any closer and we’d have been on stage with him. I told him we’d be there but not that my Belisha beacon hair would be in his line of sight for two hours. He clocked us but didn’t appear fazed and delivered a faultless performance as Faukland, both funny and touching. The rave reviews have all singled him out, but none of them spotted that his funniest mannerisms and movements were vintage Struck Off and Die.
We had a drink after and carefully slotted back in to friendship. Soul mates are rare and it’s lazy, selfish and foolish to let them go. Oddly, I wasn’t overly jealous of his success. It’s been a struggle to get castings when you have no classical training but Sir Peter Hall clearly knows talent when he sees it. I wonder if he’s got a small part for the ginger one?