Dirleton | Healthcare

Healthcare | Residential homes

General medical practitioners in the parish have been notable for their long service to the local community. Dr H.B. Kirk first came to Gullane in 1916 and remained in practice until his retirement in 1964 at the age of 75. He was joined for a time by his son and later by his son-in-law Dr W.L. Blackett who served in the practice from 1949 to 1984. In 1964, Dr St. C.G. Barr came as an assistant, became a partner, and remained until his retirement in 1996.

Before 1957, surgeries were held in the doctor’s private house, the dining room acting as waiting room. That year saw the building of purpose-built premises in Broadgait, which were modified in 1994. Up until 1984 Saturday evening surgeries were held in particular to cater for patients having to come in from surrounding farms. In conjunction the chemist remained open till 7pm.

At the end of the century the Gullane Medical Practice provides most of the general medical services for the parish. There are three doctors, one of whom is part-time and a practice nurse, also part-time. Three part-time receptionists and a full-time practice manager complete the team. In addition there are two community nurses (what would formerly have been district nurses) attached to the practice and a health visitor based in North Berwick runs a twice-weekly child health clinic at the Gullane surgery. The practice serves around 4100 patients, mainly from Gullane and the immediate surrounding district. No appointment is needed to see a doctor. In the 1990s for evening and weekend emergencies the partnership became part of the East Lothian Medical Emergency Clinic and Service, based in Tranent and run by a rota of doctors from participating practices. The retiral of Dr Barr provided the occasion for a real village event when the community expressed its appreciation in a packed village hall, the evening ending with the guest of honour playing Auld Lang Syne on his accordion.

A dental surgery was opened in May 1991, catering for both National Health Service and private patients. The staff consists of one full-time and two part-time dentists, along with two dental nurses and a trainee. Previously residents had to travel outwith the parish for dental treatment. A podiatry clinic is provided by the NHS Trust. For several years it was held in the annexe at Waverley House but later moved to Gullane Day Centre where it operates one day a week.

The present pharmacy follows in the footsteps of the first chemist shop of J.P. Sinclair who opened for business in 1899. At the end of the century there is one full-time and one part-time pharmacist plus two dispensers. Whereas the retail side of the business has not changed greatly, the dispensary has become increasingly busy and, needless to say, computerisation has been introduced and now plays a large role.

Several premises in Gullane have been used as residential and holiday homes. Muirfield House was bequeathed to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh by Miss Mary Jane Meikleham and used for the treatment of long-term patients. From 1967 it was used as a holiday home by patients of the Royal Scottish National Hospital at Larbert, and lastly by Lothian Health Board as a geriatric holiday home. In the period 1985-87 the site was developed with the building of retirement cottages in the grounds.

After the war, Waverley House was a holiday home for the wives of retired miners. In the early 1970s it was taken over by the Midlothian, East Lothian and Peebles social work group as a retirement home, being transferred to the Lothian Regional Council’s social work department in 1975. Despite protests it was closed in 1999 and residents moved to other locations.

The Miners’ Convalescent Home at Whatton Lodge, with accommodation for 20 people, was opened in September 1949 by Lord Balfour, having been purchased for £23,000. The actual ceremony was performed by Joe Neilson who had been a miner for 68 years. An extension was opened in October 1981 by Mr and Mrs James Cowan. It still operates at the end of the century, albeit on a more limited basis.

Coldstones was left to the W.R.V.S. in 1950 by Hon. Percy Thesiger to be used as an establishment for the elderly. It was subsequently passed to the Bield Housing Association, which has since sold it on.

Muirfield Nursing Home, formerly the major part of Bisset’s Hotel, opened in 1988 and houses 41 residents.

Linksview Gullane Day Centre was started in 1991 to serve local elderly people who were frail, disabled and/or were suffering from dementia. The former Primary 1 classroom in the playground of the old school in East Links Road was refurbished and adapted for the purpose. It is open five days a week with lunch served on three of them, and provides a wide range of social, therapeutic, recreational and basic health activities. In 1997 a banner representing life in the village was hand sewn by some 18 ladies meeting once a week for two hours. Two more banners, one looking to the future and one to the past were presented to the village in 2000 as a thank you for its continuing support of the day centre. They hang in the village hall. A qualified co-ordinator is assisted by a rota of volunteers and by a management committee of ten members. It has its own minibus with volunteer drivers. Funding is currently provided by East Lothian Council social work department supplemented by fund-raising events to cover extra costs.

Some other voluntary services have disappeared. A local Red Cross members’ group ceased and the last local involvement of the W.R.V.S. stopped with the end of the Meals on Wheels service in January 1999.