Private Eye

Tour Dates




Staying Alive




Press Info

Interview Feature

Press Quotes

Tour Reviews



Log in

August 22, 2018

Filed under: #VoteDrPhil,Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 9:17 am

Dr Phil Hammond is very sad and a little puzzled to have been dismissed by the BBC from his Saturday morning show on BBC Radio Bristol, which he had greatly enjoyed doing for 12 years without any complaints of political bias.

The dismissal came after Dr Hammond tweeted on August 21 that he had been endorsed by the National Health Action Party as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate at the next general election for his home constituency of North East Somerset (sitting MP Jacob Rees-Mogg). Dr Hammond added that he was a believer in progressive alliances and would stand aside if a stronger candidate declared. He was sacked the same day.

Dr Hammond had previously announced his intention to stand on BBC 1 (Sunday Live, July 29) with no comeback, and had told the head of BBC Radio Bristol, Jess Rudkin, of his intention. He was advised that it should not be a problem but that he would have to stand down during purdah. Because the date of the next election is very hard to predict, Dr Hammond decided to declare his intent early to be completely open and transparent.

Dr Hammond has worked in the NHS for 31 years (mainly part time) and assumed the same public service rules would apply to the BBC. Doctors are allowed to carry on doctoring if they declare they wish to stand for parliament or become a priest, but they must not let their political or religious views into the consulting room. Likewise, BBC presenters (in this case one with many years’ experience and no previous complaints) should be trusted to broadcast without bias despite their declared political affiliations. Dr Hammond said ‘I strongly suspect whoever made this decision has never listened to any of my broadcasts. Such a sudden decision smells strongly of fear. There is no political bias on the Saturday Surgery, just three hours of health and happiness with some live music. I shall really miss the fantastic team at BBC Radio Bristol and all the loyal listeners. It’s been a hugely enjoyable 12 years.’

You can listen to Dr Phil’s final Saturday Surgery here and judge for yourself

Notes for Editors:

Dr Hammond got the idea to stand for parliament from his audiences.

‘This year, I’ve been touring the UK celebrating 70 years of the NHS and canvassing ideas for a ‘People’s Plan’ to keep the service afloat in the future. So far, the majority of my audience members (admittedly not a random sample) want to restore the government’s legally binding duty to provide universal healthcare rather than just ‘promote’ it, which has allowed a whole range of services to be cut or cut back. They are prepared to pay more for public services, but only if the money was spent on supporting frontline services that are proven to work. They prefer the services to be publicly provided, with outsourcing to the private sector only used if, say, the NHS needed help, and only if the providers were ‘not for profit’ so that any savings go back into the service rather than to shareholders. They want longer consultations with staff they know and who know them (something that’s been proven to improve your care). Above all, they want NHS staff to be safe, unstressed and well-rested, and present in sufficient numbers. Most regular users of the NHS observed staff shortages and exhausted doctors and nurses. My audiences want legally-mandated safe staffing levels for doctors and nurses, starting with emergency care and on-call.

There have been some funny suggestions too. ‘All cabinet members and their families must be treated in the worst performing hospital in the country.’ That could drive up standards faster than anything. I also liked ‘When people who shelter money in tax havens call an ambulance, it has to come from the Cayman Islands.’ There was a strong feeling that tax should be seen as a badge of honour for living in a civilised society rather than money the government grabs off you. If we’d matched the percentage of our GDP that Germany has put into health just since 2000, we’d have put an extra £260 billion into the NHS. Think how fabulous the service could be with that level of investment. A few suggestions were brilliant in their simplicity. ‘For one day a year, doctors and patients should tell each other the truth.’ And ‘Replace hospital beds with bunk beds. Bed crisis sorted.’ One of the most popular suggestions was the most unlikely. ‘Dr Phil for Health Secretary.’

I have promised to give this my best shot, although I’ll somehow have to leapfrog my sitting MP, Jacob Rees Mogg, first. My philosophy is that ‘health for all’ should be the political consideration and ambition that overrides all others. Without health – our freedom to live a life that we have reason to value – then life itself seems pretty pointless. And politicians should relentlessly focus on adding value to all our lives rather than settling their petty personal rivalries. I’ll be standing for the National Health Action Party in North East Somerset. You can read our 2017 Manifesto here. I hope I can count on your vote, whenever it is.’

Dr Phil will be celebrating the NHS in Bradford upon Avon on September 14, Clevedon on September 15 and Bristol on November 18. Come and shape my manifesto