To the Editor


Under the above heading an account of an inquest is reported, that I think is unique.

A Deputy-coroner states a case against a respected doctor, who has lived and done hard work in the neighbourhood of Whaley Bridge for at least 14 years, as if, instead of being what he is, he were the vilest monster; but I feel sure that not one sensible person who has carefully read the report, and who is in the least degree removed from the state that is best described as maudlin, or who has the least knowledge of doctors and their troubles, but must deeply sympathise with Dr Allan.

Kindly allow me to state the case according to the report, and then allow me to say a few words in explanation.

At about 11.30 at night a woman feels the pangs of labour, and a midwife is sent for, but she is ill and cannot attend. Another person is got to attend, and a child is born. Four hours after, and the initiated will know what that means, a doctor is sent for, and the doctor is told the case. From what he is told the doctor knows he can do nothing to help the woman and that if he goes it will be merely to take the responsibility off those who had attended the case, and who were responsible.

The result proved the doctor is right. The doctor was not roused till after four o’clock, and, according to the evidence, the woman died at 4.20.

The Deputy-coroner, in his summing up, says: “When he (Jodrell) found he could not get one person he came back home. He found that the child was born. Then he goes for the medical man.”

The above was that much of a truth that is worse than a lie.

The facts are (I quote from your report) that “when he could not get one person” he did not then go to the medical man, but went for his mother and sister-in-law, and afterwards for Mrs Holmes. At 1.20 the husband went to lie down, and afterwards having been called up by one of the women, went to the medical man, whom he did not arouse till past four o’clock.

The Deputy-coroner further says: “He (the doctor) does not trouble to open the door.”

Persons got hurriedly out of their beds before daybreak in winter weather are not, as a rule, fond of exposing their persons to the cold air, but that does not matter to the Deputy-coroner. (What?)

Again, the Deputy-coroner says: “He (the doctor) is then told the circumstances of the case.”

Yes and what are the circumstances of the case?

Why, that the doctor was not called until the woman was so near dead that the doctor could do no good. Read the evidence of Mrs Holmes, who, after being twice pressed by the Deputy-coroner, to say that a doctor could have saved the woman, she says “I could not say that he would have saved her life, but it would have been more satisfaction if he had attended her.”

Exactly so, and the “more satisfaction” would have been that there would have been no Deputy-coroner’s inquest.

Mrs Holmes says “he (Dr Allan) must have the money in his hand before he goes (to confinements) or he won’t go.”

Now the fact is, and please bear this in mind, that never but once in fourteen years did Dr Allan ever receive his fee until after his professional work was done, and in that one case he was on his way to the patient when the money was handed to him. (I wonder how he knows that)

The Deputy-coroner is reported to have said “he never knew a case where a medical man declined to go in a case of emergency.”

Happy man! I could in my small experience instance many cases.

Quite recently, in a similar case to the one now under discussion, four doctors one after another declined to move. Another case, which happened within the last six months, and not a great distance from here, three doctors declined to turn out at night, though the patient was believed to be in extremis. And these cases are not exceptional.

If doctors think they can do good they as a rule answer any summons; and I am as sure as that I am writing this that if Dr Allan thought he could have done one bit of good, and that he was not being made a cat’s paw of, he would have gone to the case referred to through rain, hail, or snow, independent of the guinea or of any fee whatever.

I should deeply grieve to say one word that should add another pang to what Jodrell must have felt at the loss of his wife, and, therefore, I will merely trust that what he said before the Deputy-coroner he thought was true, but if that philanthropist Archibald Vickers (whose name by-the-bye I can’t find in the latest edition of “Slater’s Directory”), likes to make enquiries into the case, I will willingly give a day with him to the matter, and go to Whaley Bridge to find out how much truth there is in what Jodrell deposed.

I can speak from long experience of Dr Allan’s invariable kindness in cases of real illness.

The Bible tells us to “beware of that man of whom all speak well,” and Dr Allan, no doubt, has his detractors, he has too little patience with those whose ailments are fancied or magnified to please all, and it is many a guinea he has lost to himself by being too honest to prescribe physic where none was needed. He speaks too straightly for some, but under the seeming roughness there is a kindness that I am sure the majority of the people well know how to appreciate.

A hard blow has been struck at Dr Allan, but from what I know of the Whaley Bridge people after a long residence amongst them they will rally round him and see that justice is done.

I have extended this letter to a greater length than I intended, but the seriousness of the subject must be my excuse.

Yours, &c,

A. H. Colles

1, Belmont, Higher Broughton, Manchester

March 13th 1888.