Interview: Dr Phil Hammond – 'The NHS is still no safer than bungee jumping'
The NHS doctor and comedian hits the road with his Health Revolution
A GP for 20 years, Dr Phil Hammond has seen plenty ups and downs in the British medical profession. Taking some time out from his endeavours at a hospital treating young people with chronic fatigue syndrome, Hammond is on his fourth national comedy tour. Here he chats about being a funny doc, how to cure the NHS and assisted suicide
So, what's your Health Revolution all about then?
Approaching the 70th anniversary of the NHS has made me reflect on what's happening to our health service (and what politicians have done to it) and I'm always trying to discover where all the money's gone. £120bn a year and the NHS is still no safer than bungee jumping. We need to join up the NHS rather than fragment it by putting every service out to tender.
What kind of material can we expect?
There's also a lot of stuff about self-help in the new show, and a very personal account of mental illness and death in my family. Most of us spend our lives trying to balance pleasure and harm, and ignore the toxic rucksack of disappointment, harm and grief we carry around every day. Everyone needs to know how to be kind to their mind and to pleasure themselves sensibly. Do you?
Plugging away, you also have a book out, too?
It's called Staying Alive: How to Get the Best from the NHS. It's more serious than the others I've written, and I hope more useful. It also advises you on how to get the most from your one wild and precious life. I argue that most lives need living, not medicalising. There are also lots of very inspiring and moving stories from NHS carers and patients who offer their experience and advice on how to survive and thrive in a service that's creaking at the seams.
Do you believe in doctor-assisted suicide?
Yes. As soon as I start putting CDs in the toaster, I'll be popping Dr Phil's Go Quickly Pills.
How does it feel being the only doctor-comedian still practising medicine?
Sadly I'm not. Dr Hilary gave his finest comic performance ever on ITV's Dancing on Ice and continues to amuse more than I could ever dream of.
Dr Phil's Health Revolution is on tour until Sat 8 Jul.