The Laugh Doctor
PUBLISHED: 17:49 19 October 2007 | UPDATED: 14:54 20 February 2013
Phil Hammond wears many hats - he is a GP, writer, broadcaster, campaigner, comedian and lecturer. And he is also a self-confessed gossip, which is something that listeners to his Saturday morning radio show on BBC Radio Bristol know only too well...
Phil Hammond wears many hats - he is a GP, writer, broadcaster, campaigner, comedian and lecturer. And he is also a self-confessed gossip, which is something that listeners to his Saturday morning radio show on BBC Radio Bristol know only too well.
"Like most doctors, I'm really nosy, so expect a bit of gentle probing. I still do a bit of general practice, but to be honest, I'm a bit rusty. So if you phone in with any medical problems you might like to get a second opinion!"
His programme is called 'Saturday Surgery' and when it recently broadcast from the Harbour Festival, Phil found himself mobbed by fans of Channel 4's 'Countdown', on which he is a regular Dictionary Corner guest.
He has also made several appearances on BBC 2's satirical panel show 'Have I Got News For You' and his radio credits include 'The News Quiz' on Radio 4. He contributes to Private Eye and it was in here in 1992 that he exposed unusually high mortality rates among babies undergoing heart surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary and gave evidence at the subsequent public inquiry.
"It was a dark and difficult time and was stressful - particularly for the parents. But I think the NHS is safer now because of it. Results are published and work is monitored so something good came out if it. The good thing now is that Bristol has a great surgical team."
Phil says he feels proud of some of the things he exposed in his TV series 'Trust Me, I'm a Doctor' and believes that, as patients, we all need to be more assertive. "If you feel fine, then don't go near a doctor, but if you are sick, ask a few questions and ask the nurse to wash their hands. Never read the newspapers - especially the health supplements - otherwise you'll start thinking you've got monkey fever or something."
This year he hopes to start presenting 'The Music Room' on Radio 4, where each guest chooses a track which means a lot to them. "It's a bit like Desert Island Discs and will be nice because it's a move away from medicine. I think music is important to people and many people use it to get them through the day."
His radio show gives him the chance to play music loudly, although there are certain records he refuses to put on. "Chris de Burgh makes me feel slightly queasy."
Phil has just finished writing a book called 'Medicine Balls: Consultations with the World's Greatest TV Doctor'. "It's part comedy, part medical and some of it is true. There are a few consultations transcribed to show what sort of doctor I am. Buy it before I get struck off!"
Phil Hammond has worked in the NHS for 20 years. His father was Australian and as a young boy he lived in Perth, until his father died and he came to Marlborough with his mother. "The Westcountry seems like home to me. I did my medical training in Bristol and Bath and met my wife, Jo, who is a GP, when we were working at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton."
As a young doctor, working long hours, comedy was Phil's way of coping and he was in a double act called Struck Off and Die with fellow house officer Tony Gardner (later to star in the children's hit TV series 'My Parents Are Aliens'). The award-winning pair appeared at the Edinburgh Festival with their black humour.
"I think it was my personal therapy," says Phil, who is busy today with corporate and after-dinner speaking. "I'm recycling the same old jokes. What worries me is that the jokes from 1989 are still as relevant now as they were then. Thankfully the government has not sorted out the NHS so there is still something for me to talk about!"
Home for Phil and his family is in the Chew Valley, where he is very much involved with local life; he has coached junior rugby teams and been chair of the governors at the primary school his two children attended. "I've organised a few local events and got involved in amateur dramatics - the usual embarrassing things."
"I'm recycling the same old jokes from 1989. Thankfully the government hasn't sorted out the NHS so there is still something for me to talk about!"
Phil is a part-time GP and a lecturer in Communication at Bristol Medical School, teaching the student doctors how to speak to patients. "One should never underestimate comedy and I ask people when they last had a really good laugh."
Dr Phil's advice for a healthy life is to keep fit by walking and get a dog; he has two Labradors of his own. "If I could prescribe dogs on the NHS I would, as they give you unconditional love. Don't go near the doctor but go on a lovely walk with a dog in the Somerset countryside."
You can make an appointment with Phil Hammond's Saturday Surgery every weekend at 10am on BBC Radio Bristol, 94.9FM. You can also listen online at www.bbc.co.uk/radiobristol.
'Medicine Balls: Consultations with the World's Greatest TV Doctor' www.blackandwhitepublishing.com/humour/medicineballs/medicineballs.html