Dr Phil Hammond: How to Get the Best from the NHS


I’m comforted by the good Doctor shaking my hand on the way into Llwyfan Cymru, saying “You look well”. The night before, I was reminded of my upcoming 60th birthday when a question was asked of Jack Dee’s Help Desk about how (or more correctly who) to harvest a stool sample, as the NHS write to all of us approaching the big birthday, screening for bowel cancer.

The entertaining and informative session focussed on how we can fix the NHS. By taking responsibility for our own well-being, Dr Phil reckoned that over 70% of visits to the GP can be avoided.

I’m a T2 diabetic, and have successfully managed my condition by diet and exercise. Dr Phil illustrated his point by using CLANGERS as an acronym to assist people in living a healthy way:

C to Connect with people and don’t live in isolation to others;

L to Learn new things and continually challenge yourself;

A to be Active;

N to Notice the world around you and savour the moment;

G to Give Back, do something nice for someone, smile, volunteer;

E to Eat well;

R to Relax, take time out to chill; and

S to Sleep, getting 6-8 hours of good quality sleep is fundamental.

“Every day you don’t need to use the NHS, someone else benefits”.

Coastlines, The story of our shore by Patrick Barkham

Photograph by Martin Godwin.

Photograph by Martin Godwin.

A couple of years ago, I was sitting in the Reindeer in Norwich with Patrick when he spoke of his next writing project. The idea was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Enterprise Neptune”, the National Trust initiative to “..save the most precious portions of coast from rampaging tourism and industry”.

To date, some 742 miles of the total 3,000 coastline of England, Wales and Northern Ireland is now owned by the National Trust. Patrick’s book isn’t a travelogue, but a collection of stories about our relationships with the Coast forged by our childhood memories (building sand castles, inclement British summers), the romance of the sea (weekends in Brighton being cited in divorce cases) and the role that the Coast plays in providing a living and a defence in wartime.

Don’t expect a glossy coffee table book with loads of colour pictures, but a series of stories which paint a picture of how the Coast shapes our lives.

Hay Castle

 I’m very impressed with the plans for the restoration of Hay Castle, which are on display on the Festival site.


I’ve been lucky to see inside the castle, as in the last two years the Festival has organised guided tours with experts. It’s a fascinating building, with so many quirks. If you’re around Hay this week, pop into the Groucho for a coffee/drink/meal, and you’ll see part of it.

Today I confirmed a rumour that I’d heard about the bath. Prince Charles visited the castle a while back and commented on the fact that he collects baths. The Trust didn’t think that the tub fitted in with their plans, so it took 6 men one day to remove the bath from the castle. It now resides in Scotland.

Famous faces……

I’m thrown when I see a face I recognise out of context. We had lunch in the Groucho yesterday, and couldn’t put a name to the face of an actor in the bar who we all recognised. So, rather than just introduce myself, we spent the next hour trawling the Internet for inspiration, to no avail.

Saturday afternoon and evening were spent stewarding, which is always hard work but enjoyable. Dealing with all sorts of questions, getting the queues organised and making sure everyone safely gets in and out of the venues is the aim. I took the roving microphone for the Q&A, which involved wearing a high vis glove so that Alan Yentob could see where the next question was coming from.

Famous faces in context are different. And behind the scenes, Stephen Fry and Sandy Toksvig were unmistakable.

A long day ended with Jason Byrne taking the mickey out of Ray who admitted to stealing a jar of rouge. Odd.

I thought that I’d not be able to sleep without knowing the name of that actor. I slept soundly!

Tomorrow’s News Today



I must admit that apart from picking up an Evening Standard on the way out of London every now and again, I rely on TV and the Internet for my news fix. Twitter alerts me to breaking news quicker than any other medium, and if I’m out of wifi reach the car radio fills a gap.

Up until today, I’d not realised just how out of date by comparison today’s newspapers are. We left the Hay festival site tonight just after 7, at the same time as tomorrow’s Telegraph were being delivered.
I’m sure that other papers have to meet similar deadlines.