Paying the piper and calling the tune? Complaints against doctors in workers’ medical schemes in the South Wales Coalfield

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In May 1921, a woman from the mining village of Bedlinog, south Wales, attended the surgery of Dr Thomas, the practitioner attached to the medical scheme established by the miners of the village to serve themselves and their families. She had hoped to obtain something from the doctor for her daughter. When presented with a few pills and a powdery substance, however, she complained to the doctor that this was a curious way for him to dispense medicines and was told to ‘go to hell’. She lost her temper, threatened to throw the esteemed doctor through his surgery window and left the surgery in high dudgeon. She subsequently submitted a complaint to the workmen’s committee that administered the scheme of which Dr Thomas was the surgeon, insisting that Thomas was drunk and unfit to see patients on the day in question. Following the procedure – agreed by the doctor when he was first contracted to provide medical attendance – the committee called both parties to their next meeting, heard both accounts of the incident and then deliberated in private on the course of action to take. A proposal that both parties apologise for their parts in the disagreement was defeated and, instead, the committee resolved that Thomas be asked to apologise to the complainant. The doctor consented and apologised for his behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComplaints, Controversies and Grievances in Medicine
Subtitle of host publicationHistorical and Social Science Perspectives
EditorsJonathan Reinarz, Rebecca Wynter
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781315758923
ISBN (Print)9781138794900
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in the Sociology of Health and Illness


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