It's The G.P. That Counts
Behind the Night Bell. By F. G. Layton. (Faber and Faber, 8s. 6d.) Reviewed by EDWARD ROBINSON After the Church's authority had been set at nought by the Reformation, the influence over men's affairs which had hitherto been largely exercised by the priest became, willy-nilly, transferred to the doctor, and until recently the doctor has abundantly justified the trust placed in him.
Dr. Layton's Behind the Night Bell is the record of forty years of general practice on the fringe of the Black Country. It is stamped throughout by that sturdy commonsense and great love of humanity which was the hall mark of the old 1, ,se of practitioner. The patient came first and not the disease, and the consideration of the patient's circumstances and environment did more towards his eventual recovery, perhaps, than to-day's biopsy and radiographs with the thundering fees attached to them.
I wish it were possible for those I hope will read this really first-rate essay on general practice to get hold of The Lancet for April 2 and read Dr. Harry Roberts's inaugural address to a post graduate course as it supplements the other so admirably. Here are two doctors, neither of them fools, both agreed on one thing: the decline in status of the medical profession and, I think they would also agree, that this is largely due to the disappearance of the family doctor who, as well as being the physician, was also guide, philosopher and friend to households for miles around.
This state of affairs is fast disappearing and futile efforts to recapture it, either by the pose of omniscience. which is becoming impossible to sustain, in the face of the rising level of intelligence, or by incomplete insurance schemes for those whO can
afford a little more than the panel, can only end in disappointment. As both Drs. Layton and Roberts hint in their respective essays the. days of mysterious aloofness are over and it will be well for the profession to come down into the market place if only to realise that both doctor and patient are, after all, human, and, somehow, that both have to live.
This inevitably leads to the question of a State Medical Service. There is much to be said in favour of it; with the liquidation of first principles so general, the most we can hope for is equitable treatment—or at least the opportunity for it. A drab outlook—hut until the return of the knowledge that man has a soul as well as a body, I do not think we can hope for much more.
An Editor Goes West. by Leonard Crocombe Marra's, 8s. 6d.l. Mr. Crocombe is the editor of Tit Bits, previously he edited the Radio Times. His six weeks' holiday in Canada and New York provide enough entertainment for those who enjoy their pleasures vicariously. Seems fun for everyone except the chapter on Do You Like Food?—a list of menus either teases or revolts.