The residents of Spott have always relied on the GPs from Dunbar or East Linton (depending on which side of the parish they lived) to deliver healthcare, except for those in the Bothwell valley who were looked after by the doctors from Duns. District nurses would attend births, which (up to the 1960s) would be home deliveries, most often in the house of the woman’s mother or aunt. In 2000, most births occur either at home or in Edinburgh hospitals. There have been few births to single parents.
Up to 1983, in theory, district nurses were covering the entire parish as far as the Whiteadder although in practise they seldom went beyond Friarsdykes. There are no facilities for health care or ancillary health care in the parish.
From 1945-1950s, there was no TB recorded in Spott. Most people did not send their children to contract chicken-pox, mumps, measles or rubella from other children. [I recall] one case of whooping cough, but [saw] no evidence of fears of certain vaccines leading to an increase in a given disease. The whole area was affected by polio.
Everyone would call in the doctor if they thought it necessary. Iodine was used for cuts and scrapes, a spoonful of castor oil taken, and lint and green silk put on wounds.
Before 1945 till 1969 (when the school closed) the nurse came once a month to check school children for everything – eyes and teeth (every six months). Foot care came later – 2000 at the surgery in Dunbar, and privately.
Up to the 1950s, pregnancy was confirmed by the doctor who also did home visits. Specialist carers came, if needed, from Edinburgh. Nurse came to stay when baby due. The individual made the decision as to where her baby was to be born – this was nearly always at home or, if not, at the Vert hospital in Haddington. The father had no particular role.
Aftercare for the new mother was provided by the district nurse who came round. The family would also help with the second and third children. Medical aftercare for the child up to the age of four was provided by the nurse, or doctor if necessary. Free orange juice was given. Nurse Duncan came round every six weeks. There were no clinics. Free milk was provided for school children.
Physical disability was kept within the family. The options for a physically disabled child were either to be kept at home or to be sent to a special school at Tyninghame. [I knew of] no mental health problems in the parish over the period.
Throughout the period, elderly people were very much looked after by their families – even at quite a distance, every effort would be taken to look after them. Older people have played a very important part in the lives of their families, helping out if able. To c1951, when floored by either increasing age or by a debilitating disease, elderly members of a family were looked after at home if at all possible. There was a gradual change after the Health Service began when other options became available.
Tobacco and alcohol use/abuse were regarded as an accepted part of life. [As far as I am aware] drug abuse was not evident in the parish.
Moira Brad interviewed by Eileen Dykes
Older residents are able to attend the Day Care Centre, which provides transport, and the Lunch Club in Dunbar, which does not supply transport. Until December 1999, when the system changed (providing frozen instead of fresh meals), the meals-on-wheels service from St Andrew’s Centre in Dunbar delivered these around the parish. In earlier times, the meals were provided by the grammar school kitchens.