It’s always interesting to find something new out about a parent and recently my brother informed me that our father was a founding doctor in the first NHS clinic at Woodberry Down, Hackney – now called the Sir John Scott.
Aneurin Bevin, the Labour Minister in Clement Attlee’s government opened the clinic in 1948.
The NHS was neither welcomed nor affordable in austerity Britain, nor the cherished institution that it is today.
Smoking a pipe the BBC doctor Charles Hill railed against it, and consultants and doctors viewed it as an unwelcome rival.
It’s aim of delivering medical care to all the population did succeed in both creating a healthier country and fairer distribution of care.
My father voted Labour for the one and only time in 1945 and the NHS was part of the the ‘New Jerusalem’ that swept Clement Attlee to a landslide victory.
My father remained a GP until he ‘retired’ on Black Wednesday but he was asked – after taking his retirement day off (we all had a family lunch which was a rarity) – to stay on, which he did.
He used his experience as a doctor to write a ground-breaking thesis in 1962 on staphylococcus infection in which he contradicted Louis Pasteur by arguing that bacteria did not swim to a wound but remained like moles beneath the skin.
I believe this is now accepted wisdom.
If a patient complained of being depressed by bad treatment in the family he would suggest that once a day they do an act for someone else other than themselves.
He rose to the pinnacle of his profession, treating the Royal Family and Prime Ministers, but he never forget from whence he came nor his sense of duty and community.