Garynahine, 12 October 1912 - Malcolm Macleod

11,764. (Chairman.) You live in the island of Bernera, at 6, Breascleit, Stornoway ?

11,765. You are not a crofter ?

11,766. You are one of the fortunate people who don’t pay any rent or rates ?
—I pay just a little of my mother’s croft.

11,767. You are married ?

11,768. Have you a family ?
—Yes, I have five of a family.

11,769. Your house is on your mother’s croft ?

11,770. The people in your district are all crofters and fishermen—in the island of Bernera ?

11,771. What is the population ?
—I think between 600 and 700

11,772. Are the people very poor on the island, or just the average ?
—They are not very poor.

11,773. In a year like this they are very well off ?
—Some years they are not so well off ; it is just according to how things turn out.

11,774. Are they able to pay for a doctor ?
—The most of them are.

11,775. What is the doctor’s fee when he goes to Bernera?
—It is not the same always. I think the way the doctor was placed was that he could charge any fee he liked.

11,776. How far is Bernera away from the doctor ? There is six miles of a ferry, and how far have you to go
from this side ?
—He takes the ferry from Callernish to the south end of Bernera, and it is only about three or four miles then.

11,777. How long is Bernera ?
—It is four miles long.

11,778. That is about ten miles he would have to go ?

11,779 What does he charge ?
—Sometimes 10s. and sometimes 12s.

11,780. Especially if the doctor has to go often ?

11,781 Do you feel it a hardship that you should have to pay 10s. whereas all the people who live near him only pay 2s. 6.?
—I think that we should be in such a position that we should all pay the same.

11,782. Have you any idea how that is to be brought about?
—Well, what I think is that travelling expenses should be given to the doctor as more pay, or something

11,783. You think that the travelling expenses should be provided, and that the crofter should pay his fee?

11,784. How would you propose to provide the travelling expenses?
—I could hardly say, unless the Government paid for them. I know the people are not able to pay any
more than what they are paying.

11,785. The Government might provide some of it. Do you think it might be provided by having a club for the
whole parish ?
—I quite believe it would.

11,786 If every household paid a certain sum a year whether they needed the doctor or not ?

11,787. Do you think the people would be willing to do that?
—I think so.

11,788. What sum do you think each householder could pay into a club ?
—I suppose they could pay something like 5s. in the year.

11,789. You think they could .pay 5s. a year well enough. If they pay 5s. a year would they be willing to pay 2s. 6d. besides?
—Some of them are quite willing to pay anything they can, and others are quite the opposite way.

11,790. You think it would not work if it was a voluntary thing ?
—I don’t think it would work if it was

11,791. It would need somebody to enforce it?

11,792. Would you consider it a hardship on the population of Uig if a system of that kind was introduced ?
 —No, I don’t think so.

11,793. At present you get your medicine from the doctor, we hear it is quite satisfactory ?

11,794. There is no hospital nearer than Stornoway ?

11,795. Have you ever found the want of that ?

11,796. For what kind of cases ?
—Sometimes they have a hardship in getting cases into the hospital when it is full. Sometimes they have to send some of them to Glasgow.

11,797. In any case these cases could not be treated in a local hospital ?
—No, I believe not.

11,798. Would a cottage hospital be of any service in this parish? Have you found the want of that ?
—I should hardly say so.

11,799. You don’t think it would be necessary ?

11,800. Would the people have any hesitation in going into the hospital ?

11,801. I should think, having regard to the number of black houses, that it might be of advantage to have a
hospital to remove them to sometimes ?

11,802. You have never felt the want of it specially?
—Not very often.

11,803. Are there many people in the island of Bernera who need a doctor and who never see one ?
—Yes, there are some.

11,804. What is the reason of that ?
—Some poor people would hesitate to send for the doctor sometimes when they would have no money to pay for him. Some others would send for him whether they would pay him or not.

11,805. Sometimes you say in winter it is impossible to cross to Bernera ?

11,806. Have you a nurse on the island ?

11,807. You find that a great help ?

11,808. You say in reply to question 11, “This parish has got the best medical attendance they have had for the last twenty years” ?

11,809. You think there is too much work for one doctor to do ?
—Yes, at certain times of the year—for about four months of the year, at any rate.

11,810. Why should there be so much ?
—I believe it is owing to the bad weather.

11,811. Are the people specially poor at that time ?
—It is almost the worst time of the year.

11,812. Are the people well fed ?

11,813. Would you tell us how you feed your children? What do they get for their breakfast ?
—Porridge and milk.

11,814. Have you plenty of milk ?
—Yes, generally, except for about two months in spring.

11,815. How many cows have you ?
—I have only one myself.

11,816. When your cow is dry how do you get milk ?
—From other people round about.

11,817. There is always enough milk ?

11,818. Porridge and milk, and what else ?
—In our place they have fresh fish very often, and potatoes, oat cake, and flour scones.

11,819. Do you have any mutton ?

11,820. Do you sell it ?

11,821. Do you like it better salted ?
—Of course when you want to keep it for some time you have to salt it.

11,822. You on’t keep any pigs, and so get bacon?
—No ; they used to do it, but they don’t keep them now.

11,823. Why ?
—There is a lot of trouble in keeping them.

11,824. Have you food for a pig supposing you had one?

11,825. You have a very good suggestion here, that it would meet your case if the doctor got an assistant?
—Yes ; that is what I think. If he got an assistant so as to help him at these times of the year when he cannot manage the work himself I think that would meet our case.

11,826. And then you say he should charge the same fee all over the parish ?
—Yes. The upper end of Uig is far away from the doctor, and if the doctor had to take a car it is too much for any of the crofters to pay.

11,827. As a matter of fact, it is the doctor who has to stand. the expense himself ?

11,828. (Lady Tullibardine.) If the people in Bernera could get the doctor for 2s. 6d. a visit, without a club subscription, would they send for him readily ?
—Yes, I believe they would.

11,829. 2s. 6d. would not seem too much ?
—No, I don’t think so.

11,830. If they paid 5s. as a club subscription and had either nothing or perhaps 1s. a visit to pay besides, do you think they would send or him more readily then ?

11,831. Are there many houses in which there would be more than two or three visits by the doctor required in a year ?
—Yes, a good many, sometimes.

11,832. Is a doctor wanted in most of the houses in Bernera in the course of the year ?
—No. To some houses he would perhaps have to make half a dozen or more visits in the year.

11,833. So that the club would be a saving to these people ?

11,834. And you think there are enough of these people to make the club system preferable ?

11,835. Preferable to the system of payment by visit ?

11,836. (Mr Lindsay.) I was just going to ask you this question: We had evidence before in one case of a crofter who had never had a doctor in his house for ten years. Your family is seemingly well fed. How often have you had the doctor in your house during the last five years?
—I never had a doctor for myself all my lifetime or any medicine, and I have had the doctor in my house only once or twice during the last five years.

11,837. I suppose it points to this, that if the condition of the crofters throughout Lewis was improved, then the medical attendance is more than adequate ?
—Not more than adequate, but I quite believe that not so many cases of sickness would come under the doctor’s care during the year.

11,838. The bottom of this whole question is simply this, that there should be some material improvement of
the people ?
—Yes, certainly.

11,839. The proposal was made here to-day in connection with the island of Bernera that a doctor should be placed on the south side of Loch Roag, and on the north side, and that the island of Bernera should be divided between them, on this condition, that either doctor would go to your island when called upon. They also suggested adding a portion of Shawbost to one of the doctors. It would simply be a rearrangement of the areas. I suppose the people on Bernera would be quite satisfied with that arrangement ?
—Yes, but I know it would be easier for the people of Bernera to come to this side for a doctor at any time. In bad weather it is far easier for them to come to this side.

11,840. (Dr Mackenzie.) How many families have you in Bernera ?
—104 families.

11,841. (Mr Grierson.) Does the doctor have a special day for going to Bernera ?

11,842. Do you think if he had a special day on which he could go once a month or once a week that the would meet the medical requirements to a great extent ?

11,843. You think that that would help you ?

11,844. If you had a small dispensary there and he visited it, that would be an advantage ?
—Yes. There is one thing that is a great advantage to them there, and that is having a chemist.

11,845. You can get any amount of patent medicines?

11,846. We had some evidence here that the lobster-fishing was extremely valuable in that island. Could you give us any idea of the earnings of the men who do the lobster fishing? Would it amount to £60 or £70 a year?
—No, I don’t think so. Sometimes they will make £20. Then they have the ling season at another time of the year.

11,847. Then they will get another £20 at another period of the year. That would mean £40 for the two seasons of the year ?
—Yes, but some of them won’t make that. At ling-fishing they sometimes make £10 or £20, and
sometimes they don’t make that amount.
11,848. Do they go to the herring-fishing after the ling fishing?
—No, they don’t.

11,849. (Mr Orrock.) You mean that all a fisherman makes out of the lobsters in your district is £20?
—Yes, £20 is about the average earnings of each fisherman in Bernera from lobsters in the year.

11,850. You collect the lobsters and put them into ponds ?

11,851. You don’t pay either rent or rates ?
—Yes, I do pay them to my mother.

11,852. Do you pay any share of the rates of her croft?

11,853. ( Lady Tullibardine.) You were telling us that you have only had the doctor in your house once during
the last five years ?

11,854. Would you think it a hardship to pay 5s. a year with the chance that you might not want a doctor?
—No, I don’t think so. Although I would not have the doctor at all, I think I would be the better if I could have him like that. I think the people will all be in favour of the club system should they get it.

11,855. (Dr M‘Vail.) Do you get the benefit of advice from the chemist when the doctor is not available?
—Sometimes when they cannot go for the doctor, the chemist does what he can do for them.

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