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Trust Me, I'm (still) a Doctor [Paperback]

Dr. Phil Hammond
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

26 Aug 2009
NEW UPDATED EDITION! Why is healthcare (still) no safer than bungee jumping? Dr Phil Hammond has spent 20 years as a health service whistleblower, exposing the dark side of medicine on stage and in the pages of Private Eye. Trust Me, I'm (Still) a Doctor is his story of the NHS and how we can all help to make it better. Dr Phil has done the rounds in hospital medicine, exposed the Bristol Heart Scandal, dabbed in sexual health and been threatened at a Public Inquiry for not revealing his sources. He still works as a GP, and tries to do more good than harm in under ten minutes. Dr Phil urges us all to help fix the NHS, stop mindless reform and start asking terribly un-British questions like: 'Have you done one like me before?', 'When did you last wash your hands?' and 'Where's all the money gone?' Only then will healthcare stop being dangerous and unaccountable. Trust me...

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Trust Me, I'm (still) a Doctor + Medicine Balls: Consultations with the World's Greatest TV Doctor + Sex, Sleep or Scrabble?: Seriously Funny Answers to Life's Quirkiest Queries
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Product details

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Black and White Publishing (26 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845022610
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845022617
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 425,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


Phil Hammond is a GP, writer, broadcaster and possibly the only comedian to appear at a public inquiry. He is Private Eye's medical correspondent and broke the story of the Bristol heart scandal in 1992, which lead to the largest public inquiry in British history 7 years later.

In 2009, he broke allegations of serious errors in pathology reporting in Bristol, which lead to an inquiry in just 7 days. He has survived Ruby Wax, Have I Got News For You (7 times), The News Quiz, The Now Show, Countdown and being reported to the General Medical Council by William Hague's Press Secretary. He was also the only doctor to appear for the prosecution on Channel 4's Doctors on Trial.

Brought up in Australia before a traumatic relocation to every school in Marlborough, Phil Hammond qualified as a doctor in 1987 from Girton College, Cambridge University and St Thomas' Hospital Medical School. He became a GP in 1991 but first came into the public spotlight writing a column for The Independent and as half of Struck Off and Die, with Tony Gardner. They had five sell-out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, were twice selected for the Perrier Pick of the Fringe and won Writers' Guild and Silver Sony Awards when the show transformed into a Radio 4 series. In 2002, Phil fronted 28 Minutes to Save the NHS on Radio 4, which he extended to a sell out Edinburgh Fringe Show, 59 Minutes to Save the NHS and further extended to a highly successful 60-date UK tour 89 Minutes to Save the NHS.

Phil still works part time as a GP and lecturer, but is better known for his TV work. He presented five series of Trust Me, I'm a Doctor on BBC 2, exposing wide variations in care across the NHS and co-wrote the sitcom, Doctors and Nurses, broadcast on BBC 1 in 2004. A GP-based sitcom, Polyoaks, has just been commissioned by Radio 4, which he will co-write with David Spicer. Phil is currently science presenter for The One Show (BBC1) and is making 20 short films, each containing an experiment. He presents The Music Group for Radio 4 and is the author of three best-selling books: Medicine Balls (an NHS satire), Trust Me I'm Still a Doctor (20 years of whistle-blowing in Private Eye) and his latest book, a pleasure manual entitled Sex, Sleep or Scrabble? is based his experiences working in sexual health. This is also the inspiration behind his latest live show Dr. Phil's Rude Health Show, which goes on tour from April 2010. Two DVD of Dr Phil's live shows (Dr Phil Hammond's Rude Health Show 1 & 2) will also be released in 2010.

Phil is married to Jo, also a GP, and has two children, two Labradors, two cats, two retired ponies and a full head of ginger hair.
For more info, go to

Dr. Phil Hammond - Q & A

Q: For those who haven't you on stage before what can they expect?

A: Access to a GP. It's hard getting in to see a doctor these days, so I always bring my black bag, prescription pad and sick notes. I tend to get problems from the audience, rather than heckles, and my changing room is open for swabs during the interval. Most of the material has a medical theme but it's accessible to everyone. And if you're too shy to ask a question, you can always drop one into Dr Phil's secret sac.

Q: You have a reputation for being out-spoken and explicit. Is this show as rude as your last?

A: It depends what you mean by explicit. I rarely swear, but I'm a firm believer in demystifying medicine and destigmatising illness. And I've worked in a sexual health clinic. So the material ranges from vulvas to vaccine scares. I do give the audience the chance to choose between political and anatomical humour, but then - like any other doctor - I just to do what takes my fancy.

Q: What inspired you to create your new stage show?

A: The sixtieth anniversary of the NHS and imminent election 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. £105 billion a year and the NHS is still no safer than bungee jumping. There's also a lot of material about pleasure in the new show. Most of us spend our lives trying to balance pleasure and harm, and yet doctors very rarely mention the word, as if it's too hedonistic or frivolous. But everyone needs to know how to pleasure themselves sensibly. Do you?

Q: It's been a few years since you were last on tour. What have you been up to since?

A: I'm not just lazy. Most doctors who go into comedy give up the day job, but I've kept my hand in. Not just because I need the material, but also because I enjoy seeing patients. I hate all the bureaucratic crap and hoop jumping - most GPs spend half the consultation staring at the computer - but the beauty of not being a partner is that you can follow the patient rather than the money. I've just got a job working as a GP in a challenging area of south Bristol.

I do a regular show on BBC Radio Bristol, present the Music Group on Radio 4 and have just become a science presenter for The One Show, making films which all include an experiment. I also do a lot of writing (three books and a sitcom about a GP polyclinic called 'Polyoaks') and I've been Private Eye's medical correspondent for nearly 20 years. I still teach medical students and do a lot of serious lecturing as well as just taking the piss. And I like being a Dad, so it takes a lot to drag me away from home.

Q: You have two DVDs coming out soon. What are they about?

A: The shows were filmed at the Komedia in Bath, one is more political with satirical tips on staying healthy and surviving the NHS, the other more anecdotal confessions of my time as at medical school and as a junior doctor. There are lots of meaty revelations (falling asleep with a penis enlarger on, a visit to the clap clinic, assorted medical disasters, being summoned to a public inquiry) and they're going to be released as Dr Phil's Rude Health Show 1 and 2. The political stuff will come out before the election, the anatomical stuff in time for Christmas.

Q: Are you planning to write a new book? What other projects are in the pipeline?

I'd like to write a fourth book called simply 'How to be a Patient', because the bit missing from NHS reform has been the empowerment of patients. Labour talks about it endlessly but, in all the medical disasters I've exposed over the years in Private Eye, and on Trust Me I'm a Doctor, it was patients and relatives who spotted there was a problem long before the establishment saw fit to act. Just read the recent report of the Mid Staffordshire disaster. We need to encourage patients and front line staff to speak up, praising good care and spotting problems early so we can nip them in the bud. This sounds a bit of a rant, but I will stick some jokes in there.

I've also got a GP sitcom commissioned for Radio 4 (see above), and the fourth series of the Music Group, also on Radio 4, which is like a book group, but with one track each. I've learned how important music is for people's mental health, but also how individual our tastes our. Telling someone you don't like their favourite track is akin to telling them they've got an ugly baby. So as presenter I have to use my infamous GP communication skills.

On May 6 (probably election day), I'm giving evidence to the Bristol pathology inquiry, which was set up after concerns were sent to me at Private Eye about standards of pathology reporting in Bristol. It comes 18 years after I broke the story of the Bristol heart scandal in the Eye, which resulted in the largest public inquiry in British history. It saddens me that lessons from Bristol may not have been learnt, but I've realised over the years that change in the NHS happens incrementally, not overnight, and you have to keep consistently fighting for quality, safety and an open and accountable NHS, and we might get there before I need to use it.

Q: How often do you still practise as a GP?

A: I do a minimum of 6 hours a week seeing patients, and the same again keeping up to date. It doesn't sound a lot but I'm hoping that when my other careers take a nose-dive, I'll be able to do more. I've just got a job at a walk-in centre in an interesting part of south Bristol.

Q: You once stood for Parliament. Any chance of you going into politics in the future?

A: I hate adversarial party politics. There should be no left and right, just right and wrong. Get the best people in post and let them grow up and work together. Politics needs a more scientific approach where we pilot new ideas before implementing them across the board, and we're not frightened to admit something didn't work and try another tack. The over-promising and unrealistic expectations of politicians makes them all ultimately fail. Big ideas are generally bollocks. Incremental change based on the best available evidence in a realistic time frame sound very dull, but it's more likely to get results.

So yes, I'm interested in politics and try to be constructive. I've just recorded a DVD training programme for the Home Office to help spot radicalisation and prevent violent extremism in communities and public services. And I've chaired the last four conferences for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). So I enjoy the debate, but I can't see myself ever joining a party.

Q: You're very passionate about patient rights. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge for the NHS in this regard?

A: Patient empowerment is the crucial bit of the jigsaw missing from NHS reform, and being heard is even harder if your illness isn't sexy to the media. I'm a vice president of the Patients Association and a patron of the Herpes Viruses Association, and I try to raise the profile of those forgotten illnesses that don't get a look in on the front of the Daily Mail. I also contribute to an excellent website called, which encourages people to come forward with their embarrassing lumps and leaks, rather than just sit on them.

Q: 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'.

Q: You're a regular on Countdown & a Scrabble enthusiast. What's your favourite word?

A: Blissom. A blissful state of sexual heat. Although I might have made that up.

Q: Lastly Dr. Phil, what do you to relax?

A: See above. And if that fails, I'm very adept at relaxing in a gentleman's way. Also, I'm proud to be acquainted with one wife, two kids, two dogs, two cats, two retired ponies, a rural community, the Ring O' Bells, Bristol City FC, Bath Rugby, the Mendips, Lads v Dads football, a large book collection and an old trumpet. I'm currently murdering Louis Armstrong classics with the help of a Hal Leonard jazz play-along CD.

Product Description


All of NHS life is here . . . a raw, real and satisfying read. --Richard Smith, British Medical Journal

It is very much in people's interest to stop blindly trusting the surgeon to do his or her best, and move to a position of informed sceptiocism . . . If you have any doubts about whether this is strictly necessary, Hammond's book will put you right. --Dr James Le Fanu, Sunday Telegraph

Sceptical, irreverent, very funny and like a mighty gust of fresh air in a field that's bedevilled with cover-ups and cloaked in a vow of silence. --Time Out

About the Author

Dr Phil Hammond is a doctor, comedian and commentator on UK health. He is the author of the hugely popular Medicine Balls. He also writes the Medicine Balls column for Private Eye and regularly appears on Radio 4 and on TV as a regular guest on Countdown, Have I Got News For You and on BBC's Trust Me, I'm a Doctor.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remaining Constructively Sceptical 21 April 1999
By A Customer
Dr Phil Hammond is unashamedly open about his profession. He provides a rare insight into the dark side of medical culture and training. As patients we can sometimes experience an overwhelming pressure to keep quiet and hand over our health care lock,stock and barrel to the doctor sitting in front of us. Doctors may want to do their best for every patient they meet, but in this book Hammond reveals to us a real human tapestry against which failure and mistakes occur routinely and unsurprisingly given the historical background, culture and initiation rites of medical students. It is a sad tale and it needs changing not only for the well being of patients but for the well being of doctors too. His message is like a clarion call to the public. Inform yourselves, remain constructively sceptical, and take responsibility for your health care. Above all do not be afraid to ask questions. If you don't know which questions to ask Dr Hammond has thoughtfully provided a list for you. There is also a message to the Royal Colleges. Open your eyes and end your culture of cover up and secrecy. Regulate your profession prospectively, be accountable for your mistakes. Patients do not expect you to be GOD, they expect you to give them clear, real anwers to the difficult questions they ask, so they can make informed choices which maintain their self- respect and dignity. Next time you are in a hospital as a patient make sure you have access to this book. it will act as a powerful advocate of your well-being and give you a measure of autonomy. Maria Shortis - parent of child who died following heart surgery at Bristol in 1987. Founder member BHCAG (Bristol Heart Children Action Group) Director CDCA -Constructive Dialogue for Clinical Accountability
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Trust? 20 April 1999
By A Customer
The old adage is that most people know more about how their car works than they do about their body. And most people ask more questions of the bloke fitting new brake-pads than the surgeon about to take out their appendix. This odd relationship between patient and doctor (patient: startled rabbit, doctor: headlamp) is summed up in the ironic title of 'Trust Me..' It's a book patients should probably read, unless they are of an especially rabbit-like disposition. Like every other doctor I know, I am aware of at least one 'colleague' who I wouldn't let within six feet of me holding anything sharp, but I'm still not sure what to do about it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for anyone - well or ill 29 Nov 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There are brief essays about the highlights of the career of each Secretary of State for Health in the last twenty or thirty years interspersed with excerpts from the author's 'Private Eye' column. There are also items about various illnesses and high profile cases and scandals - including the Bristol heart scandal (exposed by Dr Hammond). The style is down to earth and straightforward and there is an excellent section at the end of questions patients should be asking their doctors about any treatment they're given. One thing that especially sticks in my mind is the comment that only a third of patients on long term medication take it properly. If that is the case then how can we be sure whether such drugs really work? There is definitely food for thought in this particularly for anyone who is on long term medication for any reason or for anyone about to have any sort of treatment in hospital. If you know anyone in this situation - do them a favour and buy them this book - if nothing else it could get them better treatment in hospital if they leave it lying around prominently!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do we get the health care that we deserve? 29 Mar 1999
By A Customer
Anyone with an interest in the NHS should read this book (and that should be everyone in Britain, since we all fund the service and will probably all use it at one time or another). The first half describes the way our doctors are trained, framed by Dr. Hammond's own experiences. Despite the fact that the author is a comedian as well as a doctor, this is a sobering, if not terrifying, read. Dr. Hammond is not afraid to ruffle feathers, or to analyze his own professional inadequacies, and probable reasons for them. The problems he highlights (among them secrecy, arrogance, lack of appropriate training and supervision, lack of audit or accountability, an administrative structure that forces hospitals to compete against each other for patients, and, finally, simple lack of sleep) can all combine to create tragedies like the child heart surgery scandal in Bristol and the many other unnecessarily poor surgical and treatment outcomes covered in the book and in the tv series of the same name. The book isn't all about problems, however. It is also about the patient taking more responsibility for the system. If, as Dr. Hammond states, we get the healthcare system we deserve, then we deserve better, and we have to demand better. He suggests that it is up to us to start asking for more information, both from our own GPs and from the government, to ensure that we are receiving the best and most sensible care possible, and that doctors meet at least a minimal standard of competence for any procedures they perform. In order to help you inform yourself, the second half of the book takes a walk through the research on some common medical problems, suggesting some questions you might want to ask, and some sources for more information. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it!
Hilariously dark, informative, entertaining, and more than slightly worrying.
Published 25 days ago by MR S WALMSLEY
5.0 out of 5 stars Trust Me, I'm (Still) a Doctor
Big fan of Dr Phil. Very great read, really amusing but also has a serious side. No wonder he's so popular!!
Published 3 months ago by G. G. Beament
5.0 out of 5 stars Phil, You're A Star!
Love his humour. It's the best way, too, of revealing some of the horrors in the NHS! I gulped! Some guy!
Published 8 months ago by Mr. J. Sutter
4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable
I really like Phil Hammond. seen him on TV. He's very amusing and clever. I like his style. It is a book I will go back to time and time again.
Published 17 months ago by molly
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but scary
Don't expect this book to be a belly laugh all the way through, even though Doctor Phil is a highly entertaining comedian. Read more
Published on 16 Aug 2010 by Twohoots
5.0 out of 5 stars Trust Me
Book was used and showed the use, but this was exactly as discribed. Good read tho.
Published on 24 Mar 2010 by Mr. I. D. Leedham
5.0 out of 5 stars Is There A Doctor In the House?
Many relatives of a previous generation expressed a fear of going into hospital, opining, "Once you're in, you don't come out. Read more
Published on 19 Dec 2009 by Neutral
5.0 out of 5 stars The N.H.S.
Excellent service from this company and would be happy to use them again.Phil Hammond pulls no punches regarding our N.H.S. Read more
Published on 3 Nov 2009 by R. Campbell
3.0 out of 5 stars Some shocking stories
Be aware, this is not Medicine Balls, but instead Dr. Phils columns from the Eye and other various sources on the state of the NHS. Sometimes funny but more often worrying. Read more
Published on 27 Oct 2009 by Sir Bob
5.0 out of 5 stars I gave it as a present to my son -The Doctor:-))
I have followed Dr Hammond's column in the Times. Browsing through the book before giving it as a present I found it again amusing and perceptive.
Published on 9 Sep 2009 by Veronika Bernstein
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