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Newstead Scotland

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Information on the village of Newstead in Scotland.

Doctors, Dentists and the Deaconess

There was no National Health Service in those days. Doctors were paid by their patients for their services and most families joined an Insurance Society and paid into it weekly, or at intervals, to save against illness, also the rates and rent bills.
Melrose had a society called the "Melrose Friendly Society" and Galashiels had at least one which was called "The Funeral Society"!

A dentist came to Melrose once a week and held a surgery in a local Hotel. An extraction cost 2/6d (12 p). I don't know if it was supposed to be painless, but I do know that any extractions I had never were.
We had two doctors practising in Melrose, a Dr. Spiers and a Dr. McMillan. Dr. Spiers used to visit his patients by motor cycle and Dr. McMillan by car.
The Earlston doctor, a Dr. Young, also had a few patients in the area and on occasion he visited on horseback.

A Deaconess who lived with her housekeeper in a red roofed house in the village, called "The Cottage" was, I believe, engaged by the Presbytery to attend to the health and spiritual welfare of the community.
She was an elderly lady, and she wore a brown uniform which always reminded me of the uniform worn by the Salvation Army. I think it may have been because the hat was somewhat similar. It was kept in place by a broad brown ribbon tied under the chin.
She went her rounds by cycle and attended to the sick and the elderly. She also conducted the Sunday School which was held in the Fairfax Hall.
This was a building which stood opposite the school building, but it was demolished a number of years ago. It was gifted to the people of Newstead by Lady Fairfax who resided at Ravenswood at one time.

The Fever Hospital at that time always seemed to have a large number of patients, especially in the summer months. It had wards for diphtheria and scarlet fever. Diphtheria was a disease of the throat; it was a dreaded disease and often proved fatal.
Scarlet fever was less serious, but the patient was confined to hospital for six weeks. We always kept well away from the hospital when we were playing.

The ambulance provided by the Health Authorities was a grim-looking affair. It had solid tyres and its outward appearance looked somewhat similar to the vehicles now used to transport horses from one point to another. A small window about one foot square was fixed near the upper part of the body of the vehicle, which must have provided light, as it was too high up to look out of.
I think the caretaker at the Hospital usually acted as the driver for the ambulance.

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