Sunday, 6 September 2015

Before the National Health Service ..... paying the doctor

Bolton in 1938
Now every so often I am drawn back to a time before the National Health Service.

More recently it was in a story about Bolton in the 1930s when most working families found the cost of a doctor’s visit beyond the family budget.

Instead they resorted to all sorts of cheaper alternatives, from the man who offered to cure all manner of skin and hair complaints with a simple potion to the cheap and sometimes dangerous tablets.

And along the way there were those who had their teeth pulled by the village blacksmith and those that chose their spectacles from Woolworths by the simple practice of trying on pairs of glasses till they could see the shop assistant.

Wythenshawe in 1941
There will be those today who mutter this is an exaggeration and at worst propaganda but the sight of the man pulling teeth in the open market in Ashton has yet to fade from living memory while there are plenty accounts of people rationing their health care because of the cost.

And so here is a doctor’s bill from 1941 from the collection of Graham Gill.

The cost of nine shillings was a vast amount when as Graham points out the family rent alone might amount to twelve shillings.

Pictures; courtesy of Bolton Library Museum Services, working Man’s hair Specialist, 1993.83.01.24 and from the collection of Graham Gill

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