30 JULY 1948, Page 16


SIR,—In The Spectator of July 23rd you make some remarks about doctors in the new Health Service to which I must take exception. You state that for a doctor to give a warning that persons will not get the same attention as before unless they remain paying patients is a plain attempt to sabotage the whole of the Health Service Act. The reverse is more nearly the case. There is a type of patient who demands treatment in his own house-for the most trivial ailment. The only check on his calls for attention is the subsequent bill. If this type of patient is to get the same facilities under the Act there will be no limit to his demands, and the time which the doctor could well spend in useful work is going to be frittered away in trivialities. Is a doctor to be blamed then if he warns such a patient—and there are many of them—that he cannot expect the same attention under the Act as he could as a private patient ? A wealthy woman living many miles away and owning a car gave her card to my partner. He explained to her that he would expect her to attend at his surgery for minor troubles along with other patients. She refused point blank to do so, and he refused to accept her as a patient under the Act. She then accused him of creating a black market. Which was right ?

You further state that doctors who have accepted service under the Act are under a moral, and quite possibly a legal, obligation to give the service for which the Act provides. I would point out that no doctor is under any legal obligation to attend a patient whom he does not wish to attend and who is not on his list. Patients cannot be forced

onto his list against his wishes.—Yours, &c., COUNTRY PRACTITIONER.