Ashburton Guardian Manga est Veritas et Prævalebit. WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30, 1919. HOSPITAL DOCTOR.
We publish, to-day, the opinions of an Ashburton doctor in regard to the appointment of a resident physician at the County Hospital. Such opinions deserve respectful consideration, but we frankly confess that after perusal, our previously expressed belief that the proposed appointment is a real step forward, was in no way shaken, and we trust that the Hospital Board will not be daunted by fear of easily overcome difficulties. Dr. Chesson has declared himself -strongly in favour of the appointment, and where experts differ, laymen must decide for themselves. Where health is concerned, cost is an important, but not the main consideration. Many outsiders will imagine that the patients in the public hospital will receive better and more consistent attention if the services of a regular resident medical officer are at their disposal, than under a system of "supplies." We think that the suggestion to permit four local doctors to be," in' turn, medical superintendnt, would.be fatal to the efficient administration of the institution, for doctors are human, and the possibilities of friction would be many. Moreover, what guarantee could be given that the private and more remunerative practice of the medical men could be so arranged that such calis would never be given preference to ordinary^ hospital cases. The doctor interviewed, took, in our opinion, a too pessimistic view of the chances of getting a capable man for the salary and perquisites offered. The shortage of qualified medical men is rapidly being Overcome now that the war is over, and there will not be the restricted choice prevailing of late. Supposing a salary of £500 a year were given; this, together with house free, no special establishment expenses, no motor cars to purchase, no bad debts, and no long credits, with advantages of greater leisure and less harassing day and night calls, would help to i make the position of a resident hospital doctor rather attractive.., A private general practitioner j might make a larger gross income, but his advantages are not so overwhelming as first thoughts suggest. We shall be surprised if the Board finds it necessary to engage a fresh youth, or a wornout veteran, and still more surprised if the annual cost of the appointment approaches £1000. The time has come when doctors generally —not so much the Hospital Boards —should reconsider the position. The medical profession, is usually termed one of the noblest, as indeed it is, but if commercialised unduly, it will lose its place in public esteem. Too many doctors are obsessed by the fear that a sick person well able to pay a doctor's usual fee, may escape, and this fear is stimulating a somewhat hostile attitude to public institutions, and a corresponding degree of enthusiasm for private and more profitable hospitals. Those who through rates contribute to hospital funds have a right 4o the facilities offered by the institution, and one advantage of a resident medical officer is that he is less inclined to look askance on applications for admission from the less povertystricken. Most objections to entering private hospitals spring not through the desire to pay public institutions too little, but to escape paying the others too much. We make no comment on this at-
titu&e; we simply state it as a fact that must he reckoned with. It is fairly safe to predict that if an election to the Ashburton Hospital Board were fought on the question of the appointment of a resident medical officer, the
"Ayes" would have it.