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July 25, 2010

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — Dr. Phil @ 2:00 pm


Happy Birthday NHS?


Celebrate 70 years of the NHS and rebuild it to your liking…. Choose Management Consultants or Common Sense, Hope or Fear, Cheap Prevention or Ridiculously Expensive Ineffective Treatment… A nutritious diet for all or gastric banding… Nye Bevan or Jeremy Hunt… Just £2,200 a head per year for absolutely everything or what they pay in Germany. It’s your NHS, apparently, so it’s time you sorted it out.

12/07/18     Bristol Arnos Vale

date Venue Box Office
14/09/18 Wiltshire Music Centre 01225 860100
15/09/18  The Curzon, Clevedon 01275 871000
19/09/18 Artrix, Bromsgrove 01527 577330
23/09/18 Newcastle Stand 0191 300 9700
24/09/18 Glasgow Stand 0141 212 3389
25/09/18 Edinburgh Stand 0131 558 7272
04/10/18 Norden Farm, Maidenhead 01628 788997
10/10/18 The MAC Belfast 028 9023 5053
17/10/18 Lincoln Drill Hall 01522 873894
25/10/18 Lyric Theatre, Carmarthaen 0845 2263510
26/10/18 Huntingdon Hall, Worcester 01905 611427
29/10/18 Lakeside Arts, Nottingham 0115 846 7777
30/10/18 Lakeside Arts, Nottingham 0115 846 7777
06/11/18 The Exchange, Twickenham 020 8240 2399
13/11/18 Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds 01284 769505
17/11/18 Borough Theatre, Abergaveny 01873 850805
18/11/18 Redgrave Theatre, Bristol 0117 3157800
21/11/18 Theatr Mwldan 01239 621200
22/11/18 Wyeside Arts Centre, Builth Wells  01982 552 555
07/12/18 Winchester Theatre Royal 01962 840440

“If Dr Phil were a medicine, you should swig him by the litre” The Times ****

“One of the most entertainingly subversive people on the planet.” The Guardian

“Hugely enjoyable, well crafted, poignant stand up” Broadway Baby 2016 ****

“Hammond is a passionate rabble rouser and impressively positive…. the perfect health secretary” Fest Magazine 2016 ****

“Very funny, honest, clever and moving. Passionate about the NHS” Dr Clive Peedell, founder National Health Action Party

Remaining dates are below. If you’d like to book the tour show, or half of it, please contact Warren Lakin at Lakin McCarthy Entertainment., 01359 230483

Reviews of the shows are here

For all other enquiries, please contact Shelley Devlin at the Richards Stone Partnership, 0207 497 0849


The daily habits of healthy, happy people are easy to say but harder to do. Try to do your daily CLANGERS, and help others to do theirs. Changes in lifestyle are far more powerful than any drug we have to offer.

My review in The Times of Dr Rachel Clarke’s riveting medico-political memoir ‘Your Life in My Hands’, which details the pressures felt by NHS junior doctors working in an unsafe system, and the desperation that lead them to strike.  Uncomfortable reading for Jeremy Hunt and the BMA



Here’s my BBC NEWS interview about junior doctors. You can’t have a ‘truly 7 day NHS’ without truly 7 day funding and 7 day safe staffing levels. For junior doctors alone it would require another 4,000 to have the same high quality, safe care 7 days a week – you can’t just stretch 5 days’ staffing over 7. the same applies to all other groups of NHS staff. The 7 day NHS is an aspiration that will take time, training, inspiration and involvement to achieve.  It can’t be brutally imposed to a political deadline with no funding or staffing.


Has anything really changed since 2011? Has any NHS whistle-blower been compensated or reinstated? Is it any safer to blow the whistle in the NHS?

‘Shoot the Messenger’ – a Private Eye special investigation by Phil Hammond and Andrew Bousfield into how NHS whistle-blowers are silenced and sacked was shortlisted for the Martha Gellhorn prize for journalism 2011. Available to download here



Phil bbc

Dr Phil Hammond


Staying Alive – How to get the best from the NHS – is full of inspirational stories from patients and carers and glued together with my own reflections of working in, thinking about and investigating the NHS over 30 years. You can read the reviews or add your own tips and tactics here

‘This is a fantastic book about how to live well. Phil Hammond’s goes beyond the usual tips about diet and exercise – we hear about the power of positive thinking, as well as how to get the best out of the health service. And this book is packed with real stories – from people who have become survival experts through their own experiences. Their stories are heartwarming, enlightening and useful.

Phil Hammond has a knack of being brutally honest and very funny at the same time. This is quite simply the most useful book about health and the health service that I’ve ever read.’

Professor Alice Roberts BSc MB BCh PhD Hon.FBAASc
Anatomist, author & broadcaster
Professor of Public Engagement in Science, University of Birmingham



“This is a real find; funny, poignant, thoughtful, worrying, reassuring, and so good it should be on prescription.”
–Roy Lilley @RoyLilley

“Smart and funny, Phil Hammond is the perfect way to inoculate yourself against the nonsense which passes for most health commentary.”
–Alastair McLellan – Editor, Health Service Journal @HSJEditor

“A fascinating insider’s history of the past sixteen years of the NHS. This wise, witty and often moving diary reveals what really went on behind the political and managerial bluster. So well written it turned me into a compulsive page turner.”
–Dr Michael O’Donnell, author of The Barefaced Doctor, a Mischievous Medical Companion

With cartoons by Fran Orford





Phil Hammond is an NHS doctor, campaigner, health writer, investigative journalist, broadcaster, speaker and comedian. He has done all these jobs imperfectly and part-time since 1987, and was also a lecturer in medical communication at the Universities of Birmingham and Bristol. As a doctor, Phil worked part time in general practice for over 20 years, and has also worked in sexual health. He currently works in a specialist NHS team for young people with chronic fatigue syndrome/ME.

Phil presented five series of Trust Me, I’m a Doctor on BBC2, and has been a presenter for BBC Radio Bristol since 2007. He is Private Eye’s medical correspondent, broke the story of the Bristol heart scandal in 1992 and gave evidence to the subsequent Public Inquiry. In 2012, he was shortlisted with Andrew Bousfield for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Investigative Journalism for ‘Shoot the Messenger,’ a Private Eye investigation into the shocking treatment of NHS whistle-blowers. In 2014 and 2015, he was voted a Top 100 NHS Clinical Leader by the Health Service Journal. He has fiercely supported NHS junior doctors in their battle with the government against an imposed, untested and potentially unsafe new job contract.

As a comedian, Phil was half of the award winning double-act Struck Off and Die, with Tony Gardner. He has done three solo UK tours and is returning to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016 with two shows – Life and Death (But Mainly Death) and Dr Phil’s NHS Revolution. Phil has appeared many times on Have I Got News for You and Countdown. His NHS comedy, Polyoaks, is written with David Spicer and has had three series on BBC Radio 4. He is a columnist for Telegraph Men and Reveal, and writes comment pieces for the Times. Phil is a Vice President of the Patients’ Association and a patron of Meningitis UK, the Doctors’ Support Network, the Herpes Viruses Association, Patients First, PoTS, the NET Patient Foundation and Kissing It Better. He is also a fundraiser and advisor for the Association of Young People with ME.

Phil has never belonged to any political party but was highly critical of the Health and Social Care Bill (now Act) in a BBC1 Question Time debate with then health secretary Andrew Lansley. He said the reforms were ‘wonk’, there was no convincing narrative explaining the reasons for the changes and that the focus on competition rather than the collaboration and co-operation needed for an integrated service.

question time

Phil has written  five books – Medicine Balls, Trust Me, I’m (Still) a Doctor and Sex, Sleep or Scrabble? ‘What do Doctors Really Think?’ and ‘Staying Alive – How to Get the Best from the NHS’.

Phil was revalidated by the GMC in September 2013. Below is the feedback from his colleagues and patients for my revalidation 360_feedback_Dr_Philip_Hammond[1]

Real time reviews of my consultations from patients and parents can be found here

My NHS work is as part of a specialist NHS team in Bath, treating young people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME, based at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath. Details of the service we offer are here Good advice on accessing specialist CFS/ME services and treatments available can be found via the AyME website (for people up the age of 25)  and the Action for ME website (for those over 25)

 I can’t give any personal medical advice via this site, and I don’t do any private practice.


Praise for Dr Phil’s comedy

                                  “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

  Galaxy 749Born in the NHS

To read Phil’s Private Eye columns, written under the pseudonym MD, click on… er… Private Eye.

Dr Phil 2IMG

These action shots were taken in 1988, by photographer Homer Sykes, when glasses were riduclously big and babies were ridiculously slippery.

Dr Phil and Dr Tony, then and now



Galaxy 375

Struck Off and Die’s first ever performance, Bristol, 1990


Dr Tony’s Braineater, Berkley Brasserie Bristol 1990


Dr Phil’s First Stand-Up, Berkley Brasserie, Bristol 1990

August 12, 2016

NEW TOUR DATES 2016-2017
Filed under: Edinburgh Fringe 2016 — Dr. Phil @ 9:00 am

I’ll be touring both my current 4* Edinburgh shows – Life and Death (But Mainly Death) and Dr Phil’s NHS Revolution as a single show – Dr Phil’s Health Revolution. Confirmed dates so far are below. If you’d like to book the tour show, or half of it, please contact Warren Lakin at Lakin McCarthy Entertainment, 01359 230483

Reviews of the shows are here

For all other enquiries, please contact Shelley Devlin at the Richards Stone Partnership, 0207 497 0849

Venue date box office
Sheffield Memorial Hall 25-Oct-16 Online / 0114 278 9789
Winchester Science Centre 17-Nov-16 Online / 01962 891825
Mwldan, Cardigan 17-Jan-17 Online / 01239 621200
Wyeside Arts Centre, Builth Wells 18-Jan-17 Online / 01982 552 555
Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury 01-Feb-17 Online / 01684 295074
Chipping Norton Theatre 04-Feb-17 Online / 01608 642350
Bristol Tobacco Factory Theatres 05-Feb-17 Online / 0117 902 0344
Nottingham Lakeside Arts 09-Feb-17 Online / 0115 846 7777
Leicester Little Theatre 16-Feb-17 Online / 0116 255 1302
Norden Farm Centre for The Arts 23-Feb-17 Online / 01628 788997
Huntingdon Hall, Worcester 04-Mar-17 Online / 01905 611427
Leicester Square Theatre, London 06-Mar-17 Online / 020 7734 2222
Leicester Square Theatre, London 07-Mar-17 Online / 020 7734 2222
Komedia Bath 09-Mar-17 Online / 0845 293 8480
Theatre by the Lake, Keswick 11-Mar-17 Online / 017687 74411
Andover- The Lights 14-Mar-17 Online / 01264 368368
Oran Mor, Glasgow 21-Mar-17 Online / 0844 873 7353
Artrix, Bromsgrove 23-Mar-17 Online / 01527 577330
Acorn Arts Centre, Penzance 04-Apr-17 Online / 01726 879500
The Poly, Falmouth 05-Apr-17 Online / 01326 319461
Chapel Arts Centre, Calstock 06-Apr-17 Online / 01726 879500
Pound Arts Centre, Corsham 22-Apr-17 Online / 01249 701628
Berry Theatre, Hedge End 29-Apr-17 Online / 023 8065 2333
Hertford Theatre (comedy festival) 22-Jun-17 Online / 01992 531 500

August 11, 2016

Reviews of both Edinburgh Fringe Shows
Filed under: Edinburgh Fringe 2016 — Dr. Phil @ 6:59 pm

I’m doing two shows at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe, August 5-27

3.05 PM Life and Death (But Mainly Death) – on at 19.05 on Aug 21 only
10.05 PM Dr Phil’s NHS Revolution with Dr Margaret McCartney

Tickets  here   in advance, or walk up to @theSpace Venue 43 box office:
Symposium Hall, Hill Square (Off Nicolson Street), Edinburgh EH8 9DW
0131 5102385

Come and say hello after

Some very nice reviews below…

Dr Phil’s NHS Revolution ★★★★

Fest Magazine

By Si Hawkins

Published 09 August 2016

One wonders if Jeremy Hunt might send an incognito aide to see this show. If so, the awkward stooge should be easy to spot. This being an onstage revolution, there’s an awful lot of chanting – a hefty chunk of it directed at the health secretary. Although the rhyming couplets are more creative than you might expect.

If you weren’t particularly worried about the future of our healthcare system before this show, you definitely will be by the end of it. Practising doctor and popular comedian, journalist, radio presenter and medical sitcom-writer Dr Phil Hammond has been a high-profile campaigner since his junior doctor days in the early 1990s. But the NHS now faces its biggest crisis since then, hence this, his first return to Edinburgh in five years, and a passionate call for action.

In truth, most of his audience are on board already. Lots of health workers are in, and the constant chuntering of approval give this the feel of a rally as much as a show. Hammond is a fine rabble rouser—aided by guest Dr Margaret McCartney, who reveals some troubling stats about NHS wastage—and, unlike most politicians, he remains impressively positive throughout, despite the weighty issues.

To keep things light Hammond utilises slogan T-shirts, children’s toys, handy acronyms, those chants and singalongs; there’s even a nice shout-out to lefty children’s TV genius Oliver Postgate, whose ’60s show The Clangers surreptitiously suggested a more caring model for a modern utopia. The perfect health secretary if that ideal world ever happens? Dr Phil Hammond.

Dr Phil’s NHS Revolution Review


Stand up for the NHS: Margaret McCartney joins Phil Hammond on stage in Edinburgh

By Bryan Christie

Published 09 August 2016

Margaret McCartney, the Glasgow GP and columnist for The BMJ, made her Edinburgh Fringe Festival debut last week. She joined the doctor and comedian Phil Hammond in an hour long show urging the audience to form a popular movement to save the NHS from market mayhem.

Dr Phil’s NHS Revolution is a verbal Punch and Judy act. The villains are dishonest politicians, profiteering corporations, and market solutions. The heroes are striking junior doctors, Britain’s army of carers, and evidence based decision making.

McCartney heads the revolution’s Anti Bollocksology Unit, providing facts that people need to know about today’s NHS.

Hunt and homeopathy

It is not an hour that England’s health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, would much enjoy. His support in 2007 for a motion in parliament defending NHS homeopathic hospitals is highlighted as an example of his unfitness for the job. His use of questionable mortality statistics to justify his drive for a seven day NHS is another. Hammond combined these two in one of the best jokes of the night: “The statistics that come out of Jeremy Hunt’s mouth don’t have any trace of the original statistic in them.”

The Labour Party may have created the NHS, but it does not escape Hammond and McCartney’s anger. It was the same Labour Party that also introduced PFI—the private finance initiative or “pay for it indefinitely,” as they suggest it should be renamed. PFI will result in taxpayers being charged a total of £100bn in ongoing payments for the construction of £10bn worth of hospitals, they said.

Rants with references

McCartney treated the audience to some “rants with references.” One was, “We are treating more and more people at lower and lower risk for conditions they may never get in life.” This trend has led to the idea of pre-diabetes and pre-hypertension. What next, asked McCartney, pre-death?

“There isn’t enough rational debate about the NHS in the mainstream media,” McCartney told The BMJ when asked about her motivation to take to the stage this summer. “I’m worried that the reasons for the perilous state of the NHS aren’t getting fair hearings—it’s underfunded and, worse, we are wasting fortunes on non-evidence based, thought-up-in-the-bath, short term party political policy.

“What do we want? Evidence based policy making! When do we want it? After systematic review and independent cost effectiveness analysis!”

Although the subject matter could not have been more serious, the show’s bitter pill was coated with comedic sugar, contrasting the values of the NHS with the absurdity of much that goes on in its name.

“We have to pay for the NHS. We have to look after ourselves. We have to protest. If we don’t fight for the NHS now, we’re stuffed,” said Hammond in his final plea. The audience cheered, eager conscripts to the revolution.

“What do we want? Evidence based policy making! When do we want it? After systematic review and independent cost effectiveness analysis!”


Life and Death (But Mainly Death) ★★★★

Broadway Baby

by Timothy Leonine Tsang

Published 9th August 2016

In spite of the morbid title, Dr Phil Hammond’s stand-up show makes mischief of the macabre. I was already taken in when he tells the audience that those who have seen a play with ‘death’ in the title are statistically more likely to die (no correlation of course).

Laughter is thinned out tactfully to address a range of issues that include Jeremy Hunt and the state of mental health

Dr Phil’s act comes with a powerpoint. This set-up is not unfamiliar to the audience, who may have seen him before on Have I Got News For You and various media productions on the BBC. Though the majority of the viewers are more mature and elderly, there is no shortage of young viewers who, I’m sure, immensely enjoyed this show.

The entire routine is a narrative effort, as Dr Phil starts with his little known family history, tracing the past to explain his lifelong desire to work for the NHS and Private Eye. There are memorable wisecracks along the way about family dynamics, and about deaths to loved ones that are commemorated with a humour seldom flippant, but which shone with a hindsight that is particularly heartwarming.

It is rather rare for a comic to sustain momentum throughout, yet Dr Phil manages so by segueing into more worldly terrain later on, as he muses upon our society at large. Laughter is thinned out tactfully to address a range of issues that include Jeremy Hunt and the state of mental health in this country. Comedy makes way for tribute to a compassionate society.

Dr Phil delivers a hugely enjoyable hour of well-crafted stand-up, a welcome reprieve from other performers these days who dabble with too much at once. This veteran of the comic circuit revels in the poignant, and provides just the tonic for the aged.

Life and Death But Mainly Death


By Kate Saffin

Published August 12

Low Down

Dr Phil considers the deaths of two dads and his mum still gate vaulting in her eighties. And considers his own death asking is it possible not to kill yourself before your time, yet die gently when your time comes? Laugh, think about sanity and plan your exit.

Phil Hammond was an NHS GP for twenty years, has worked in sexual health and now works in a specialist NHS team for young people with chronic fatigue. He first appeared at the Fringe in 1990 as half of the junior doctor double-act Struck Off and Die, has been a Private Eye journalist, is an outspoken supporter of the junior doctors in their current dispute, appeared on numerous radio programmes and written several books. So an hour in his company promises to be interesting.

He starts by cheerily announcing that people who come to see his show are more likely to die. But then again 99% of people involved in car accidents are wearing shoes which doesn’t prove that wearing shoes causes car accidents…

He wants us to think about what we want, to be talking about death – not only because it makes life easier for those you leave behind but because it brings people closer together. That in his experience as a doctor people reaching the end of their life don’t regret what they haven’t done but the time they haven’t spent with their family and friends.

He then goes on to do just that, to talk about his life and family;  sharing highs and lows in a thoroughly disarming way. He may have spent much of his childhood in Australia but he has nailed our trademark self-deprecating British humour.

Experience of death came young for him with the death of his father when he was only seven. Amidst the humour he gives us an insight into grieving as a child; how children won’t always react in the way we think they should as though they are merely mini adults.

Back in England as a teenager he followed in his father’s footsteps in his interest in science and settled on a career in medicine – where he found discussing  death and the sharing of difficult diagnoses and news with patients was all too often absent. He touches on the very serious as well, using the example of the Bristol paediatric cardiac survey scandal to highlight the importance of openness and honesty when things do go wrong.

This is a thoroughly life affirming show, mostly about death, and one everyone should see. You will leave smiling… and thoughtful. And if that hasn’t convinced you; as a child he asked his father about the meaning of life… go just to hear the answer.



Life and Death (But Mainly Death) is also part of the festival within the festival Death on the Fringe featuring drama, comedy, spoken word, music and other events. It is part of the ongoing charity-led campaign, Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief, which works to promote more openness about death, dying and bereavement.


July 1, 2016

Filed under: Edinburgh Fringe 2016 — Dr. Phil @ 12:00 pm


Your two urgent appointments with the Doctor: 3:05 pm - Life and Death (But Mainly Death) Dr Phil reflects on life, the death of two dads and his mum still gate- vaulting at eighty. And he considers his own death. Is it possible not to kill yourself before your time, yet die gently when your time comes? Can we live and die with pleasure, purpose, compassion and modest medical interference? Laugh and plan your exit. 10:05 pm - Dr Phil’s NHS Revolution Laugh, love, shout and reclaim our NHS. Ditch the market, cherish the carers, fund the frontline, avoid the harm, kill the fear, tell the truth, use the evidence, inspire, collaborate, recover, die gently. Are you in? With guest appearances from Dr Margaret McCartney, inspirational Glasgow GP, writer and broadcaster. Phil Hammond is an NHS doctor working in chronic fatigue, an investigative journalist for Private Eye, a BBC Radio Bristol presenter, comic and author of ‘Staying Alive, How to Get the Best from the NHS’ and ‘Sex, Sleep or Scrabble?’ Phil has appeared on Have I Got News for You, Jack Dee’s Helpdesk, The News Quiz, The Now Show, Question Time, Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, Long Live Britain, The One Show and Countdown.

March 5, 2015

Staying Alive – The Book
Filed under: Staying Alive — Tags: , , , , — Dr. Phil @ 8:00 pm

Staying Alive: How to survive the NHS - Advice From a Doctor Book Cover

In this committed and compassionate book, Phil Hammond – a doctor, journalist, campaigner and patient – argues for a bidet revolution in the NHS – from the bottom up, with patients leading the charge. What we can do for ourselves to live well often far outweighs what modern medicine and the NHS can do for us. And when we do need to use the NHS, getting involved, speaking up and sharing our expertise can improve not just our care, but the care of others. We won’t always succeed, but we can learn from failure as we try to get the best care possible in our precious and precarious health service.

Dr Phil shares his own experiences of working in and investigating the NHS for 30 years, and combines it with the experiences and tactics of inspirational patients and carers, some of who have survived and thrived in the NHS, some who are planning a gentle death at home and some who have suffered greatly but are determined to improve the NHS so others don’t have to suffer.

  • The NHS is facing a crisis in care and a £30 billion black hole in its finances over 5 years. Politicians can’t fix it, but patients can.
  • Of the things that can be changed to improve our health, 70% depend on the way we live, 30% depend on the right healthcare. Most lives need living, not medicalising.
  • Getting the right care, right first time, improves both your life and the NHS for others – and patients can help to get it.
  • An invaluable book for people who use and work in the NHS, and those who want to get by without it.


buy book from Blackwellsbuy book from Waterstonesbuy book from

buy book from WH Smithbuy book from Foylesbuy book from The Book People


Got your own tips for surviving the NHS? Share them here



Publicity and reviews from:
The New Statesman
The Daily Mail
The Sunday Times

“This is a fantastic book about how to live well. Phil Hammond’s goes beyond the usual tips about diet and exercise – we hear about the power of positive thinking, as well as how to get the best out of the health service. And this book is packed with real stories – from people who have become survival experts through their own experiences. Their stories are heartwarming, enlightening and useful.
Phil Hammond has a knack of being brutally honest and very funny at the same time. This is quite simply the most useful book about health and the health service that I’ve ever read.”

Professor Alice Roberts – Anatomist, author & broadcaster, Professor of Public Engagement in Science, University of Birmingham

“Phil’s words are informative, always honest and insightful. He gives us salutary lessons in what to look for, what levels of care we should expect, and are entitled to, how the NHS should work, and what to do if it’s not working for you. But perhaps the real strength in this book is the way he lets other people tell their stories. Whenever a patient’s experience can illustrate his point, there is one. Often there are a few. Towards the end of the book there are several that will uplift you, empower you, and one in particular that will break your heart. Phil is not one to shy away from NHS failure; he wants us to know what to look out for, what to be wary of, as well as when to know that we are being cared for safely and well. He knows that only by being informed about what to watch out for can we, together with the people who work within the organization, make the NHS the brilliant thing it can and should be. The brilliant thing it mostly is. Every home should have a copy of Staying Alive. I wish he’d written it before I started my patient journey. I’m glad you have it before you start yours.”

Wendy Lee – writer and patient leader

“Phil has become trip-advisor, tour-guide, navigator and the writer of a new bible on good-care, bad-care and a general what’s-what in the NHS. We expect Phil to be light hearted and in this book, he is. We expect him to be razor sharp and he is. We expect him to know a thing or two about being a doctor and he does. Everything we expect is in this book and more. From your legal rights to the right way to approach a doctor (shake his hand), this book has it all. Life style advice, healthy living and what to do when it all goes wrong. From common-sense to cervical-screening. Chronic diseases and the time when pull yourself together might not be a bad idea.
Do we ever really know what care we should be getting? Few do. This book will make sure there are a good few more! There are real life tragedies in this book, patient experiences alongside good news of the success the NHS delivers on a daily basis. This book should be on prescription, required reading for every family in the land and be on the top shelf of the medicine cabinet. This book has it all. It is the Swiss Army Knife book of the NHS. Prepared for everything.”

Roy Lilley – health writer, commentator and carer

“I read it cover to cover in three days; it’s a brilliant book which all of us should read – patients and professionals.”

Dr Alf Collins – specialist in chronic pain and person-centred care

“Enjoyable and very accessible, Hammond makes the argument for a new relationship between the patient/public and the NHS very powerfully. This argument is in my view vital for the future sustainability of the NHS and good health. CLANGERS is an approach to managing our own health and healthcare that could help the NHS and the people it serves”

Sir David Nicholson – former chief executive of NHS England and patient

“A storming book. Everyone serious about keeping healthy or overcoming serious ill health should read this book. The call to patients to look after themselves and sort themselves out without NHS intervention is a powerful one.”

David Grant – cancer survivor and patient leader

“This is an honest and simply wonderful book. Buy it, read it, read it again, and give it to others. It not only helps you to ‘stay alive’ – it helps you lead a much better and healthier life. From cradle to grave, this book shows you how you can ‘team up’ with our wonderful NHS – from supported self-care to making decisions about treatment and operations, and so much more. Dr Phil Hammond has ‘nailed it’ again and beautifully makes the case for his overarching message: that ‘great healthcare is all about kind, honest and trusting relationships.’

But don’t just take his word for it; the book is full of insightful and moving stories from patients, carers and others that Phil does what “the NHS needs to do: listen to patients”! Despite having worked in the NHS for over 20 years, I’ve learnt something new on almost every page.”

Dr Knut Schroeder GP and founder,

“Dr Phil Hammond has the prescription for a healthier life for you and has some pretty good ideas on how the NHS could be improved for all of us. Recommended.”

Marian Nicholson – Director, Herpes Viruses Association.

“Want to get the best from the NHS? How many strong, independent adults turn to shy, tongue-tied patients, and don’t ask questions for fear of seeming presumptuous. I did when my kids were ill – and I’m a doctor! Now Dr Phil Hammond has written a fabulous practical guide in his book Staying Alive – how to get the best from the NHS. Like me, he loves the NHS – but he knows we all need some help to navigate our way through it.

Dr Sarah Jarvis – GP, writer and doctor for The One Show and

“If you use the NHS (i.e. all of use), you MUST read this book. If you’re a doctor you NEED to read this book. If you’re an NHS manager this book is VITAL”.

Dr Chris Steele – GP and doctor for ITV’s This Morning

“To describe “Staying Alive” as a bidet revolution does not do it justice. It is more colonic irrigation than bidet. Dr Phil wants to turn the NHS upside down and wash out the bureaucratic complexity that both infuriates and disempowers. He wants patients to be informed and powerful not ignorant and grateful. Ironically, he believes that it will be patients that save the NHS. Amen to that! “

David Prior – Chair, Care Quality Commission

“Ever kicked yourself for not being clued up before going through something risky and serious? For missing opportunities to prevent something bad from happening? Phil Hammond’s here to run with you on a journey of powerful stories, stats and wisdom. The destination? An activated and informed patient that can see the big picture, ready to support those around them, and ready for the NHS.”

“This gives you a good understanding of what it’s like to be a patient, what you need and can do to get it right, and what doctors are afraid to tell you but wish you knew. Hammond says that falling into illness is like falling in a river, which ‘can lead to numbness, anger, denial and confusion. But when you’re ready, you need to stop treading water and learn how to swim.’ This is just how to do that, stop yourself from getting in the river in the first place, and best ask the NHS boat to pull you aboard.”

“Want to get an insight into what it’s like to be a patient? Want to be a better patient? Want to support patients better? Read this book. It also tells you how to stay alive and well. And that care workers and carers should not be meek and mild. We are advocates. This sums up the book – a manual on how to advocate for yourself and those you love.”

Tom Stocker – patient and activist


Opinion Piece in the Nursing Times:

‘Patient experience is the secret to staying alive in the NHS’

14 May, 2015

So who did you vote for? As the NHS promise auction unfolded, I smiled as each fantasy unravelled.

Politicians know they don’t have a hope in hell of providing a seven-day NHS (Tory), a sameday GP appointment for anyone over 75 (Tory), or a midwife by your side every minute of labour (Labour). Even if the money were available, how would we suddenly grow 8,000 more GPs, 20,000 more nurses and 3,000 more midwives (Labour and UKIP)? And is being able to see a GP on a Sunday afternoon really the best use of the NHS’s precious resources (Tory)?

My guess is that I did more for my own health – and that of the NHS – by walking to and from the polling station than by placing my cross. But then I also believe that for 90% of symptoms, you’d be better off with a dog than a doctor.

What we can do for ourselves to stay well often far exceeds what the NHS can do for us – we just need to give people the confidence, courage, hope and support to realise it. Whoever’s in charge of the NHS, it can’t survive without a massive shift to self-care and a bidet revolution in healthcare: from the bottom up.

I’ve written a book, Staying Alive – How to Get the Best from the NHS, about how patients can get the right self-care and NHS care. Well, actually patients and carers wrote half of it. I know a bit about mental health and resilience (my Dad suffered from depression and took his life when I was seven) but I’ve never been poor or seriously ill, and I’m in no position to tell people how to live their lives and how to behave when they become patients.

So I spent a lot of time listening to people who have survived and even thrived as patients, in and out of the NHS, and combined their tips and tactics with my insider knowledge. And I also listened to those whose NHS care had gone terribly wrong, and their advice on how to stop it happening to others.

Those with the most difficult, stressful lives are used to taking tough decisions every day. With the right information and support, they can use these skills to make the right choices when they use the NHS. Nearly all the patients and carers I spoke to wanted to improve the NHS, not just for themselves and their family, but for other patients. Most have had a satisfactory to excellent experience of the NHS and wanted to share their thoughts and ideas with others. And those who had poor or disastrous “care” were very driven by the needs to stop it happening to other people.

In 30 years in the NHS I’ve lived through 15 top-down structural reforms driven by ideology rather than evidence. My book isn’t party political because I strongly believe politicians of all sides should grow up and collaborate around evidence, compassion and patient experience.

If all we ever did in health and social care was listen to the suggestions and concerns of frontline staff, patients and carers, and act on this to continuously improve the service, the NHS would be the best in the world. We still need to put more money into it, but we need to be certain that money benefits patients.

And to deliver patient-centred care, patients need to reveal themselves as people – what matters most, their hopes and fears – and we have to listen.

As poet Mary Oliver put it: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” No one said on his or her deathbed: “I wish I’d spent more time hanging around the NHS.” Most lives need living and loving, not medicalising.

• Nursing Times readers can order a copy of Staying Alive – How to Get the Best From the NHS for £10 (instead of £14.99) at, using the code: STAY.

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