1944 saw the beginnings of parliamentary discussion on the establishment of a Nationalised Health Service. This was to become an important topic for Dr. Boyd. In June 1944 the first Government white paper was published, and a series of discussions was held by local doctors.
During the rest of the year further meetings of the Representative Body of the B.M.A. were held, and Dr. Boyd was much involved in meetings with other representatives to ensure the leaders of the B.M.A. resisted the Bill. The B.M.A. eventually accepted the Governments proposition, including the clause to do away with the doctors holding "good-will" in the practices. All this was very much against Dr. Boyd's wishes, and he considered leaving the practice before the N.H.S. was properly established.
In 1944, Drs Blake James and Boyd produced a 4-page pamphlet, which they sent to all of their patients, and which clearly set out their objection to the proposed scheme. It ended with the words: "The Minister of Health has asked for the collaboration of doctors. We, on the other hand, refuse to become collaborationists in the Nazification of Medicine".
These were troubled times!
On 30th April 1946, however, Dr. Blake James retired, at the age of 77 years. His daughter still has the scroll which was presented to him at the time, signed by the many contributors. Set in a beautiful floral border, and written in Gothic script on parchment, the text reads as follows:
To Dr. R. Blake James,
We, whose names are herein recorded, wish to offer a small token of appreciation on your retirement after 48years of service to Hungerford and District.
We are indeed sorry to lose the attention of one who has always been so kind, courteous and attentive, and trust that you may have many happy years in well-earned retirement.
[Signatories on the reverse]
In fact he did enjoy several more years of retirement before his death in 1953, at the age of 84 years. He was buried in St. Saviour's Cemetry, Eddington.
With so much upset regarding the impending introduction of the NHS, it was a difficult time to find partners. However, when Dr. James retired in April 1946, Dr. Boyd did manage to find a doctor to join him in partnership - Dr. Max Wallis.
Malcolm Montgomery Wallis, always known as "Max", (b. c.1910) qualified in medicine (MB ChB) at Liverpool in 1934. After qualification, he continued to work for a while in Liverpool, firstly as House Physician and Resident Anaesthetist at the Royal Southern Hospital, Liverpool, and later as House Physician at the Walton Hospital, Liverpool.
He came to Hungerford in the spring of 1946, having been demobilised at the end of the war. He bought just under half a share of the practice from Dr. Robert Blake James, and moved into 105 High Street, where he and his wife Ethel (known as "Ettie") were to live for the next few years.
The surgery was a small part of the ground floor of Manor House, sublet to the practice by Dr. Boyd. It consisted of a small waiting-room, two tiny consulting rooms, a minute dispensary, and one examination room. There was no secretary at this time, and Mrs. Boyd did the clerical work, largely consisting of booking all the private visits, and sending out bills. This was a very considerable chore, for which she received a miserly salary from the practice. A few months later, a part-time secretary was hired, and she worked during the afternoon from Dr. Boyd's consulting room.
Meanwhile, the N.H.S. Act was clearly going to be passed, and Dr. Boyd viewed the prospect of a Nationalised Health Service with considerable distaste. He felt very strongly about the Government forcing doctors to surrender their ownership of the practices. He gave notice in December 1946 that he wished to leave the partnership, and decided to leave not only the practice, but Hungerford as well, where he held a seat on the Rural District Council, and a seat on the Bench.
In June 1947, prior to his resignation on 30th June, Dr. Boyd sent a printed letter to all his patients "to allow no doubt to remain in anyone's mind as to my reason for taking this step".
Dr. Boyd left medicine entirely at this time, joining his family firm of Manufacturing & Wholesale Chemists back in his native Dublin, where he was awarded M.A. Dublin in 1969. He returned to the Hungerford area in his retirement, and he and his wife lived at "Saffron Briers", 2 Green Close, East Grafton, until his death on 23rd February 1990.
This was, of course, a difficult time to attract new partners into general practice, and it was some months before a successor was found. Dr. Wallis had been in post for less than a year. Advertisements were placed for a new partner, but this was a very difficult time to arrange such things. Prospective partners were understandably wary of investing money in a practice which was due to be Nationalised in the following year.
Dr. Boyd eventually left the practice on 30th June 1947, and Dr. Robert Kennedy came to join the practice on 1st July 1947, moving into Manor House with his wife, Helen Rebecca, known as "Becky".
Robert Dill Kennedy was born in Australia on 1st April 1915, the son of a doctor, but the family was soon to return to England when young Robert was aged five months, so that his father could join the R.A.M.C. for war service. After the war, Robert's father took over a practice in Newbury, and the family moved out to Bucklebury in 1934.
Robert Kennedy was educated at Radley College, and went on to read medicine at Caius College, Cambridge, where he was in the college eight rowing team. His clinical training was at University College Hospital, London, and after his first appointment at UCH, he entered war service during the Second World War with the Royal Air Force in the Middle East.
When the war was over, he returned to UCH where he extended his already deep interest in psychiatry. However, he chose to make his career in general practice, and, in July 1947, he came to Hungerford, where he bought equal shares in the partnership, which became Drs. Wallis and Kennedy.
Prior to Dr. Boyd's retirement, the doctors had set up a small Health Service of their own, wherein patients below a certain income level paid a small weekly sum, and received medical services and drugs free, just as did those "on the Panel". At the same time, Savernake Hospital at Marlborough ran a "Penny in the Pound" scheme, which virtually all patients joined.
Dr. Wallis was responsible for Hungerford Hospital, and Dr. Kennedy was appointed "Parish Doctor", and was responsible for all the "poor", that is those not eligible to be "panel" patients, nor able to afford to pay privately.
When the N.H.S. was started in 1948, it had very little effect on the Practice, except that the partners were saved the work of sending out bills to patients. There was, however, considerably more paperwork and clerical work to do.
One minor advantage was that prior to the N.H.S. Dr. Wallis had been running an Infant Welfare Clinic on a voluntary unpaid basis, which then became a paid occupation! Max Wallis comments that Aneuran Bevan always boasted that he had started this sort of clinic.
Dr. Kennedy lived during this period in Manor House, which was rented from the Hungerford Laundry Company. Whilst they were at Manor House, he and his wife had four children, all boys. In due course, two of them were to follow in their father's footsteps and become doctors, whilst a third is a solicitor.
- Dr Blake James, undated.
- Dr Stuart Boyd, undated.
- Dr Max Wallis, undated.
Medicine in Hungerford:
- The Early Days - from the 13th century
- The Start of Organised Medicine - from 1550 to c1830
- Local Hospitals (including more distant ones used by Hungerford residents)