To the Editor
A report has appeared in your paper dated March 3rd of an inquest held at Whaley Bridge, on a woman who died after childbirth, and whom I refused to attend.
The remarks made upon that occasion are so extraordinary, so uncalled for, and so calculated to do me professional harm, that I feel bound not to pass them over in the silence which they deserve.
It is surely a monstrous thing that without giving me any intimation of the inquest, which was held without my knowledge, the Coroner, whose office above all others requires a judicial weighing of facts and evidence, should accept the statements of an angry and interested person without being aware of what I had to say on the subject.
Not merely so, but he commences his remark to the jury by a serious statement, which shows a carelessness rather more important, but of the same kind, displayed all through the case.
He is made in your report to say that I was called in directly after the birth of the child, whereas the fact is that I was sent for four hours after that occurrence; four hours during which the unfortunate woman was being manipulated by a charwoman, during which it was the duty of the husband to have gone for Dr Anderson if he could not pay me, during which medical assistance might very well have been obtained, and at the end of which the woman was in a dying condition and beyond my skill.
It is surely a singular thing that the Coroner should have allowed himself to make remarks calculated to damage my professional standing, and should have failed to ascertain exactly the cause of death, and therefore where the responsibility lay.
Although I hope I should not fail to attend to the claims of humanity, yet I do not recognize that the public have any right to expect from me gratuitous services, and I claim the right to refuse attendance where I please.
Especially do I consider myself entitled to refuse attending in a case of child-
I do not see that it is any necessary part of the duties of a medical man to remove by his mere presence the responsibilities naturally attaching to others.
Had the Coroner, instead of expressing a maudlin sympathy with the husband, informed himself as to the actual events of the case and reprimanded him for not securing medical assistance in the ample time at his disposal, it seems to me that his observations would have been more to the purpose.
Much of the conversation reported in your paper was between Jodrell and myself is so obviously imaginary, under the circumstances, that it is not worth discussing.
But his statement about calling six times on me to attend him for inflammation as his club doctor is an absolute falsehood, and, in fact, would be equivalent to my dismissal as medical attendant to the club, and he knows that.
It is curious that this should only come up after seven years, during which I have maintained very good relations with the club.
Whaley Bridge, March 7th 1888.
H. Allan, MB