DAVE Spikey is renowned for his observational quips and stories about the quirks of everyday life.

But when it comes to the NHS, the Bolton funnyman is much more serious.

Dave, who was born in Farnworth, spent his early career working as a biomedical scientist in the haematology laboratory at the then Bolton General Hospital.

The 61-year-old was also involved in hospital amateur dramatics and for years managed to juggle working at the hospital throughout the week and travelling to London for comedy gigs.

The co-writer and star of Phoenix Nights has fond memories of his time at the hospital but is not afraid to voice his criticism of the way the NHS has changed — namely its “top heavy” management structure.

Dave said: “The Royal Bolton is still very important to me. I worked there for years and my kids were born there.

“But a lot has changed. When I first started, there was a hospital secretary, chairman and treasurer and they ran the hospital.

“By the time I had left, we were top heavy with managers. Even I was having to spend time in meetings talking about health and safety and my ‘personal growth’, rather than actually doing my job.

“The NHS budget cuts seem to be hitting people working at the coal face.”

The haematology department where Dave used to work is now part of pathology at the Royal Bolton.

It is integral to patient care and diagnosis of disease at both the hospital and in the community when it comes to running any sort of test.

The Chorley-based star says he is staggered by the volumes of tests now ran every day in his former department.

He added: “We used to do about four to five tests a day and be on call at night for emergencies when I was there. By the time I’d left, we could do about 100 a day.

“But it was different world when I first started. You would go onto the wards to pick up the samples and you knew everyone.”