YP Letters: Memorable medics who plied their trade before the NHS

From: LR Hirst, Northorpe, Mirfield.

People remember good doctors in the days before the NHS. (JPress)

I CAN understand why doctors want to retire early, but what a waste of talent and experience in many cases. What a difference from being attended to under both the NHS and private medicine when I was a child.

Doctors in those days were not rich and had to rely on their patients paying their bills. I can remember every Friday night the doctor calling and my mother paying him 6p towards the cost of what she owed.

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I also remember the doctor calling one Christmas Eve in his evening suit to attend to one of my brothers who was ill, not only did he do that, he gave my father some money to buy some food for us all.

His name was Dr Hammerston and he was my father’s MO in the 1914-18 war.

My wife’s doctor was an ex-surgeon commander of the Royal Navy, his name was Dr G Burton. After paying for his part of the practice when he was demobbed he had not enough to buy a new suit and he used to visit his patients in his ex-Navy blazer and trousers and sandals.

He used to visit my in-laws. My mother-in-law while being visited by him made him take off his jacket and she cut off all the brass buttons and sewed on new ones. She also darned his socks which had holes in and finished by making him some breakfast. He never forgot her kindness.

When my daughter was ill in hospital he called every day to see her, until she passed on. A very kind and good doctor.

The third doctor who I remember served during the war in the parachute regiment and was the MD and surgeon of that regiment. His name was Dr Arthur Percival. He was captured at Arnhem with his wounded men.

We had two good hospitals in Dewsbury long before the NHS and the doctors who were surgeons used to give time to perform operations at those hospitals. They had good management made up of businessmen of the town who formed what was known as the Health Committee.

When you started work we used to pay a penny out of our wage for the hospitals, it was named the Wakefield Fund for your treatment when needed. I still visit the same surgery and they still have good doctors and staff, they must be good to still keep me going at 88 years young.

Finally, Dewsbury District Hospital was built with the help of good textile businessmen, shopkeepers and the generosity of the general public.

There were many names on boards at the hospital but since demolition they have just disappeared.