Having started out as one half of an angry junior doctor double act at our very own Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the 90’s, Dr. Phil Hammond has always been dishing the dirt and blowing the whistle on what it’s like to work for the NHS. When asked what inspired him to create his show, Happy Birthday NHS?, Hammond says, “I got to the 70th anniversary of the NHS and I just thought as well as doing a history of the creation of Nye Bevan’s amazing invention, why don’t I just ask the audience for their suggestions on how to improve the NHS so I can come up with a People’s Plan?” which he believes will make a lot more sense than anything the politicians will suggest.
With the desire to create genuine change, Hammond’s new show is a comedic, educational and truly interactive show where the audience is encouraged to contribute to his People’s Plan. Hammond fully intends to present this People’s Plan to the government or to use it as his manifesto if he runs against his local MP in the next general election.
While this show does not shy away from the tough topics, Hammond’s quick wit and light-hearted manner ensure the show is still entertaining its audience, and those who wish to have a more serious discussion are invited to do so after the show. With the intent to have a more intimate experience with his audience, Hammond greets his audience members as they come into the show and loves to chat with them afterwards. He also spoke about how he is always conscious of his role as a doctor so, as much as he may enjoy the crueller humour of comedians such as Frankie Boyle, he would never emulate it in his own shows. It is clear that Hammond loves people and believes in our potential as a public to truly cause change; he believes in the power of ideas from the general public who depend on the NHS much more than those who have the greatest control over how it is currently run.
The audience, Hammond says, are usually very politicised and have a lot of hilarious but probably rather affective suggestions such as “all cabinet members and their families have to be treated in the worst performing hospital in the country”, which Hammond believes would very quickly drive up national standards. Another suggestion he admired was that “people who shelter their money in tax havens can still order an ambulance, but it has to come from the Cayman Islands”. So, as you can see, even the humorous suggestions have a very political message to them.
Having received excellent feedback so far, both from the public and the press, Happy Birthday NHS? is a promising fight for true change. The show also presented Hammond with the credible suggestion that he should become Health Minister, which he may take steps towards.
Hammond is a renowned investigative journalist for Private Eye, with his first article leading to the biggest public inquiry the UK had ever held, and with a history of frank discussions about the real problems faced by doctors and patients in the NHS, Hammond is using his platform to garner the true state of the public’s faith in the valuable service we depend on.
If you are interested in seeing Hammond’s show Happy Birthday NHS? he will be performing at The Stand Comedy Club on the 25th September, and you can get tickets here.
Image: Gaby Jerrard PR