Dr Phil Hammond, GP, lecturer and presenter of BBC2's Trust Me, I'm a Doctor

Today, I'm delighted to be joined in theatre by Bertie Bodgit, allegedly the world's worst surgeon. Mr Bodgit, is this true?

Yes, I'm bloody awful. The trouble with surgery is that you have to be very good with hand-eye coordination and I'm not.

I don't suppose the tremor helps?

No, it doesn't, but it's congenital you see, so there's not a lot I can do about it. My father's was even worse, and he was perhaps the most successful surgeon of his generation.

He was that good?

No, you're confusing a successful surgeon with a good one. My father was a lovely man with a great bedside manner who exuded enormous confidence and sat on all the right committees. But put a scalpel in his hand and he'd just as likely slice the nurse's ear off.

Is he still practising?

Well, he practised all his life and never quite got the hang of things. But he retired last year with a triple A+ merit award.

And you're following in his footsteps?

Oh yes. You only have to spend a minute in theatre with me to know I'm crap.

Were you always bad?

Oh yes. But the funny thing about medicine is, when you're really awful you get brilliant references because everyone's so keen to see the back of you. I was a consultant at 32.

And have you improved at all?

Oh no. At least when you're a junior surgeon you get a little bit of supervision. But now I'm a consultant, I'm completely unsupervised, completely unaccountable and impossible to sack.


Well, for a start, proving that a surgeon's crap is statistically very difficult. Everything gets put down to a random fluctuation. You have to kill about a hundred patients on the trot before you stand out from the crowd.

So who's counting?

No-one actually. I'm in charge of audit in the hospital and as everybody knows I'm crap, there's no need to prove it. So I don't.

But aren't doctors supposed to report their colleagues if they aren't very good?

In theory yes, but in reality, the junior doctors need a reference and the consultants want a merit award. And guess who's chairman of the Merit Award Committee? All you have to do is threaten not to give them one or threaten to take one away, and they're eating out of your hand for life. Bunch of pussies, the lot of them.

What about the chief executive?

Ah, now he is a problem. Oily little bugger. He got wind of some little difficulty.

What exactly?

An overspill in the mortuary and a pile up in the postmortem room. Anyway, he decided to instigate an external review of our mortality rates by some independent expert. Turned out to be Stinky Smith.

And what did he find ?

Nothing at all. I just told him I was doing the hardest operations on the sickest patients, so they were bound to die.

Didn't he want to see some figures?

Oh yes. There is a national database that we're all supposed to contribute to, but the beauty is that it's all anonymous. You can't tell one hospital from another. So we just nicked the figures from a good unit and told him they were ours.

And he swallowed that?

Oh yes. Mind you, he's known in the College as The Terminator. You should see the dirt I've got on him. Ciao!

Guidelines in Practice, January/February 2000, Volume 3
© 2000 MGP Ltd
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