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The Fourth Statistical Account of East Lothian

Healthcare

In general, matters concerned with health are no different in this parish from the county as a whole. The parish is part of the area accepted by the Haddington medical practices. For most of the time the practice headed by Dr Robarts operated from Church Street and he came out to the village to visit his patients.

After the introduction of the National Health Service, the patients were allocated to the doctors in the practice alphabetically. Since my surname began with A, I was given a different doctor from those further down the alphabet.

When necessary the district nurses and midwives came to the village regularly. The babies were born in the Vert Memorial Hospital, until it closed. Patients needing to be hospitalised were sent to the appropriate place. For example, one woman was a long-term patient at East Fortune, which was a complicated journey for her family visiting her; but there was a special bus from Haddington. In the earlier years far fewer people were sent to Edinburgh for treatment. In the later years more people needing specialist treatment were sent to the Edinburgh hospitals. The ambulance called for day patients and the only disadvantage was that Garvald was at the end of the line and the ambulance could zig-zag across the county bringing the patients home!

Reports that the overhead power lines to be built across the county from Torness were a danger to health may or may not have been true; but the local community council and the Abbot of Nunraw protested volubly when the projected line appeared to be immediately over the new monastery buildings and the line of pylons was eventually built further south in the hills.

In the 1970s an elderly woman in one of the council houses was registered as blind. The council took this into account when the cottages were being updated. She was given all-electric heating and a shower instead of a bath. For most of the period there were people in the village who qualified for ‘meals on wheels’. Two mornings a week volunteer drivers brought the meals, which had been prepared in the primary school kitchen at Gifford. Meantime a much more active OAP who lived in the village took part in the scheme in Haddington taking her turn, once a week, to distribute meals to the elderly in the Nungate.

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