Throughout the period 1945-2000, local people have had to travel outwith the burgh for many aspects of healthcare. There are no hospitals or specialist facilities locally.
GP services are shared with Prestonpans and Longniddry. Until the mid 1960s there were two GP practices, both with two doctors, based at two sites, both being the doctors’ own homes. One doctor used separate rented accommodation for consultations, the other built a surgery in the grounds of his house. These premises were in use until Cockenzie Health Centre opened in 1980.
Since 1980, the number of GPs practising in the parish has increased to its present complement of six. In addition, one of the GP practices based in Prestonpans has daily consultations in Cockenzie Health Centre. Two practice nurses are employed by the GPs.
Until 1999, the local GPs provided a 24-hour on-call service. Since 1999 the out-of-hour service has been centralised and is co-ordinated from Tranent Health Centre.
Community nursing: until 1980, care for patients in their own homes was provided by three district nurses working from their own homes. They were employed by the county council until 1975, then by Lothian Health Board. Until the early 1980s, the district nurses were also qualified midwives. The district nurses have been based in the Cockenzie Health Centre since it opened. They provide home nursing for the entire practice population. Their role has expanded steadily in the last 20 years. Health visitors are also based at the Health Centre and since 1980, a chiropodist and a physiotherapist work from Cockenzie Health Centre on a sessional basis. They also work with patients in their own homes.
Maternity care: home confinement was the norm until the late 1950s. Thereafter there was a rapid move to hospital confinement. Home confinements were managed by GPs assisted by the district nurse/midwife. In 1982, a separate community midwifery service for East Lothian was established, managed by a senior midwife based in Haddington. One community midwife continues to be based in Cockenzie Health Centre, providing midwifery care in Prestonpans, Cockenzie & Port Seton and Longniddry.
Dental services: until the 1980s one dentist had a practice in his own home. After he retired, the premises were acquired by two dentists who continue to provide a service locally.
Services for adults with learning difficulties: in the 1990s, a group home for three severely handicapped adults was opened. East Lothian Care and Accommodation Project (ELCAP) runs it. In 1995, the Resource Centre which is within the Port Seton Centre, opened. It provides day care/education for 36 adults.