Medicine is jolly serious – life and death, pain and suffering, pills and needles. But wouldn’t a trip to the doctor be much more fun if it was a game? In his new show, Games to Play with Your Doctor, campaigning journalist and comedian Dr Phil Hammond puts the fun back into being ill.

For those who haven’t you on stage before what can they expect?

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.

You have a reputation for being outspoken and explicit. Is this show as rude as your last?

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.

What inspired you to create the show?

The 66th anniversary of the NHS and this 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. £110 billion a year and the NHS is still no safer than bungee jumping. We need to join up the NHS rather than fragment it by putting every service out to tender.

Who’s been the best, and the worst, Health Secretary in your lifetime?

My favourite health secretary sandwich would be between Frank Dobson and Stephen Dorrell. I lost my temper with Andrew Lansley on Question Time, and met him twice in the toilets at the NICE conference. It was far from unpleasant, but I suspect we're both glad it won’t happen again. His Health and Social Care Act has been a disaster for the NHS.

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

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.

Where are/were you happiest?

When I was mis-introduced at a conference as the Patron Saint of Herpes. (I'm a Patron of the Herpes Viruses Association). And I once did the perfect poo (according to the Bristol Stool Chart). It coiled twice around the pan and was pointed at both ends. Beat that.

Do you believe in doctor-assisted suicide?

Yes. As soon as I start putting CDs in the toaster, I'll be popping Dr Phil's Go Quickly Pills.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I hack into Jeremy Hunt's twitter account and libel Andy Burnham. And I lie for laughs.

What are your most treasured possessions?

My normally-sized prostate and non-hurting teeth.

What personal ambition do you still have?

I'd like to be Director of Comedy at NHS England. For 90 per cent of symptoms, you’re better off with a dog than a doctor. It’s time people were told the truth.

Summarise your personality in three words

Subversive, distracted, trustworthy.

What is your pet hate?

Fear. It's the cancer at the heart of the NHS that feeds bullying and anxiety, and kills compassion and transparency.

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 and continues to amuse more than I could ever dream of.

  • Games to Play with Your Doctor is at the Beck Theatre, Grange Road, Hayes on Wednesday, May 27 at 7.30pm. Details: 020 8561 8371,