Lochmaddy, 16 October 1912 - Dr Angus Macauley

14,219. (Chairman.) You live at Carnan in South Uist?

14,220. You are a graduate of the University of Glasgow; you were seven years Medical Officer for the Parish of Kildalton, Islay; two years Medical Officer for the Parish of Kirkmichael; seven years Medical Officer for the Parish of Lochs; seven years Medical Officer for the Parish of Barra.; you were two years Medical Officer for the Coxhoe Colliery, Durham; and you have been eight years as Medical Officer for the Parish of South Uist (Northern division)?

14,221. The larger half of the population is in your district?
—Yes, I suppose it is.

14,222. The longest distance from your house to a patient is about seventeen miles?

14,223. Is that a single house or is it a township?
—There are a lot of houses about seventeen miles away. There are a few shepherds scattered about in Benmore; some of them are perhaps a mile or two further away, but I am not often called to that place.

14,224. What proportion of your patients are within three miles of your house?
—A very small proportion.

14,225. You have two very dangerous fords; at least you have one very dangerous one?

14,226. Do you keep a horse and trap?
—I keep two horses and a trap.

14,227. You could not do without them?

14,228. You have never thought of starting a motor-car?
—We have no roads. We have some roads, but then in Benbecula you have a large population on the east side, and there are no roads there. You have to go seven or eight miles without a road, just over the moss.

14,229. So that a motor-car would not be of much use to you?
—A motor-car would do nothing.

14,230. You provide a house for yourself?

14,231. You get £77, 10s.—as medical officer to the parish?
—Yes. That includes vaccination.

14,232. Does that include the lunatics?
—Except when I certify a lunatic; I get one guinea for the certificate.

14,233. You have no club system, have you, in your parish?
—Well, there is a sort of club system; the crofters pay 5s. a year, and they have a right to the services of the doctor, but we exclude midwifery.

14,234. Who do they pay the 5s. to; who collects it?
— I send round a man myself and I give him 2s. in the £ for collecting it, but the people are so poor that not more than one-fourth of the crofters pay.

14,235. And three-fourths don’t pay?
—Yes, and in some places it is hardly worth my while sending round to collect the subscriptions.

14,236. What do you do when one of the crofters calls you who has not subscribed the 5s.?
—I go to him all the same. Sometimes I go quicker to him than to those who pay, because those defaulters are in great distress before they send for a doctor, and I would consider it a scandal that a person should die without relief.

14,237. Do you get any fee from him?
—No. Sometimes he may pay me 2s. 6d.

14,238. When he needs you he pays 2s. 6d.?
—No, some of them pay 2s. 6d. yearly, and those who don’t pay get sick all the same, and when they cannot get on without the doctor they send for me. I know these people are in great distress because they have not paid, and I go fully as quick to them as I would to one of the club members.

14,239. Do they pay you for it?
—Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.

14,240. I daresay you have a good many bad debts?
— Yes.

14,241. You supply the medicines too?

14,242. Are they included in the 5s.?
—No; I could not do that.

14,243. You charge extra for maternity cases?
—Yes, but there are not very many midwifery cases, because they have the old way still of calling in a neighbour woman who can do that when they want it. Perhaps it occurs in the middle of the night and they rouse up the neighbour’s wife. Of course when the case is bad they send for me.

14,244. If anything happens when they have just one of the neighbouring women in and the mother dies, does the fiscal make inquiries about it?
—Such a case occurs very seldom.

14,245. There are very few cases of mothers being lost?
—Very few. .

14,246. Are there many cases of the child being lost?
— There are very few of these cases too.

14,247. I suppose the mothers are very healthy?
—I believe that is not the reason. Of course it is one reason too, but in the Islands where there are no doctors and no facilities of that kind, when there is a bad case the mother dies, and then if a doctor was about the woman and the child would live. It is possible that the woman would have difficulty again. Where I am situated there never used to be a doctor, and these cases happened very often just the same as they happen on islands like St Kilda. When there is a bad case the mother dies, then of course there is no issue.

14,248. You keep two horses?
—Yes. I have some land, but I pay the rent for it.

14,249. You have a nurse in Benbecula; is she quite satisfactory?
—Well, yes, but both the nurse and the doctor require to know Gaelic here.

14,250. She has no Gaelic, has she?
—She works on her own account unless it is a bad case, and then the doctor is sent for.

14,251. You have had no holiday for thirty-three years?

14,252. (Dr Mackenzie.) You have a small hospital for infectious diseases at Daliburgh?
—That is in the southern portion of South Uist.

14,253. It is for the use of your district too?
—It might be.

14,254. You have no ambulance in the district at all?

14,255. You have no means of taking a case to the hospital except in an open cart or something like that?
— None.

14,256. As a matter of fact, has any infectious case been sent from Benbecula since you have become medical officer? How many cases of infectious diseases have been sent?
—We have measles and these childish fevers that come now and again, but we don’t send them to the hospital.

14,257. How long have you been in Benbecula?
—Seven years.

14,258. You have had some epidemics of scarlet fever since you came?
—Yes, there were some cases of scarlet fever.

14,259. How many cases would you have to treat as a medical practitioner? I attended to a good many of them.

14,260. How many in any one ear did you attend, do you remember?
—I attended a good many of them.

14,261. Have you had a big epidemic within the last seven years of scarlet fever?
—I can’t remember very well. There were cases, but I don’t think there were very many cases. We try to isolate them.

14,262. How did you try to isolate them?
—We kept them away from school.

14,263. You kept them at home?
—Yes. Once we know there is an infectious disease in a crofter's home we keep the children away from school.

14,264. That is all the isolation you do there?
—Yes, but it is effectual.

14,265. How many cases of typhoid would you have within the last seven years?
—I had two last year.

14,266. How many the year before?
—I think that these were all the cases we had for the last seven years.

14,267. Have you any diphtheria?
—No, we have not many cases of diphtheria.

14,268. Have you many cases of measles and whooping cough?

14,269. Where did it come from?
—Generally from the Militia.

14,270. Were they young men and children?
—Yes, young men.

14,271. Have you any other infectious diseases in the island—smallpox?
—No. We have not had a case of smallpox.

14,272. Have you any other part besides the island of Benbecula that you have to look after?
—Yes, the island of Flodday.

14,273. How far is that from you?
—When the tide goes out you can go by the ford at low-water.

14,274. How many people are there?
—Seven or eight crofters.

14,275. How many are there altogether on the island of Benbecula?
—Nearly two thousand.

14,276. How many nurses do you say you have?
—We have one in Benbecula.

14,277. Does she work with you at all?
—She is simply a midwifery nurse.

14,278. She is not a trained nurse, except in midwifery?
—I believe she had some training. She is a Jubilee nurse. Whenever she has any difficulty in a case she made for me.

14,279. Does she nurse any other cases besides maternity cases in Benbecula?
—I don’t think she is asked very much to take them up.

14,280. Do you ask her at all?
—I suppose if I asked her

14,281. Do you ask her, in point of fact?
—Only on two or three occasions, in very urgent cases.

14,282. You have twenty-three paupers or thereby?
— Yes, twenty-three paupers and twenty-three dependents.

14,283. Do they need any nursing at all?
—Sometimes they do.

14,284. Who provides the nurse for them?
—At one of the cases I attending this nurse was attending the pauper.

14,285. Does the Parish Council pay for that?
—No, the nurse is paid by the Association.

14,286. Do the Parish Council contribute to her society?

14,287. (Dr Miller.). When did you graduate?
—I graduated in 1879.

14,288. You were not just a young man then?

14,289. But you have been thirty-three years in practice

14,290. And you have given practically all your life to the service of medical practice in the Highlands and Islands?

14,291. Is there much lunacy among your people in Benbecula?
—No; in Benbecula there is hardly a lunatic a native of Benbecula. All our lunatics are strangers from North Uist or Skye or those places.

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