Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

the same in any two practices. There will be fractional differences accounted for by variation in propensity-to-visit of the doctor and health-value of the clientèle.

By this method, and in no other way, can it be ascertained once for all how much per head the employed' classes pay to the general practitioner. The amount when discovered may cause some little surprise. I believe it is a fraction under 3s.; for what we do now for 3s. per head we should under the Act be paid 6s.

I venture to say that the publication of this plan of mine last October would have solved then what is still in dispute, namely the question what premium fairly represents the 2s. 6d. per visit. My books say emphatically that 5s. is ample cover. The Act offers 6s., but the Association threatens to call a general strike of doctors rather than consent to accept less than 8s. 6d. The average club premium throughout the country is said to be 4s. With many clubs 68. has been the customary premium, and wherever this holds the work and pay have been satisfactory to both doctors and club members. In these cases I am confident in saying that we club doctors, who are shortly to be called upon by the Association to throw up our appointments, will do so with the greatest reluctance and the greatest misgivings; and, moreover, with a deep sense of distrust of the policy dictated by our leaders. The premium demanded by the Association is indefensible in so far as it claims to have mathematical relation to any visiting fee whatever, and the sole argument in its favour is its conformity with the rate paid by the Post Office-a rate which is generally acknowledged to be generously remunerative to those holding the appointments. To refuse the Government terms means the rejection of a premium that has given universal satisfaction to those fortunate enough to be receiving that figure, and it is a premium which will to the average club doctor give an immediate increase of fifty per cent. on his income for exactly the same work.

The safeguards ensured by the Act would in themselves be worth some sacrifice, inasmuch as they give us boons that we could never acquire by our own efforts—they are surely worth the sacrifice of the difference between the claim and the offer. To be given security of tenure of office; to be rid for ever of the degrading incidents that gather round the election of a club doctor; to have freedom to refuse disagreeable patients; to be armed against malingerers; to be free to exercise our judgment as to visiting, unbiased by dread of malicious tongues ; to have full liberty of scope in advising measures for prevention of ill health, a liberty that has never yet been ours, and measures which will lighten our burden without at the same time lightening our purses ought not all these things to be counted unto us for gain? Will not the institution of a uniform rate of premium smother one at least of the causes of professional jealousy and envy?

For a strike to be successful, justice and right must be on the side of the strikers. Is it so in this instance? We claim payment equivalent to half-a-crown per visit to the sick and lame insured. The Association is mistaken in declaring that 8s. 6d. is the capitation equivalent of this half-crown fee. I assert that 65., the amount offered us, is ample cover-nay, more, that it is a generous acceptance of our claim. My own investigations have proved this to my satisfaction, and with the plan before him it is within the power of every doctor in general practice to test for himself the truth of my contention. I have no doubt as to the results.

In anticipation of jibes and jeers as to the colour of my political emblems, I may say finally that I have never in my life voted for a Liberal candidate.

B. HALL.

P.S.-The reader who refers back will notice that on a preCeding page I ventured to say that if my plan for ascertaining once for all how much per head the employed classes pay-as private patients—to the general practitioner—the plan given in detail in this article, but which first saw daylight in a letter of mine appearing in the Lancet in May-if, I say, this plan could have been thought of and adopted in October last, much Searning would have been spared us, and there would have 2s. 6d. a visit. Whether the result of the Government's investigation confirms my conclusion or not, there can be no question that this plan alone is calculated to extinguish the prevailing doubt as to whether the Government offer is generous, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has so repeatedly declared it is, or unspeakably niggardly, and totally inadequate, as the majority of the members of the medical profession sincerely believe it to be.

agitation at all on the question of adequacy of pay. This plan, which the British Medical Association might have put into action itself any time since early in May, has now been seized upon by the Government. The news of the moment is that Mr. Lloyd George has insisted that accountants shall examine the books of doctors in town and country in order to ascertain the equivalence of fee in half-crown practice to prein his address at Lincoln the other day, 'The Government has mium offered and demanded. As Mr. Runciman racily put it, at last come to grips with the doctors.' In my mind there is no spark of doubt as to the result of the inquiry. What was tion of my own books, that the system of payment by premium in November a mere suspicion, founded merely upon an examinaas I had, with the rest of my confrères, been brought up to was possibly, after all, not so utterly undignified in its essentials believe, has now developed by a constant accretion of confirmatory evidence into an absolute certainty that the six shillings offered under the Act is actually more per head than the average amount paid us by the classes who as private patients are charged

Hitherto the parties have wrangled over unimportant details, and have at no time been on common ground. By the method now in operation the verdict upon this much-vexed question will be given in clear terms, and the dispute will be ended once for all.

B. HALL.

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

A DISTINGUISHED member of the English suffragist party was told, some little time ago, that a fellow-countrywoman of hers was going to Finland to see how the new electoral system in force there was working.

“Going to Finland !' she exclaimed, almost indignantly. * That is not the place for her to go to. She ought to go to New Zealand.'

Now to an outsider it would seem that, in the eyes of the faithful suffragist, Finland should rank higher even than New Zealand as a pilgrim's resort ; for there not only have women votes, but women sit in Parliament. Finland is the one whole-hogger country in Europe, nay, in the world; the one country where women are on terms of perfect equality with men in all that concerns Parliament. Every Finnish woman who has attained her twenty-fourth year has a vote, just as every Finnish man bas : no matter whether she be married or single, she betakes herself to the voting booth under precisely the same conditions as he does. She may not vote, it is true, if she be a criminal, an idiot, a bankrupt, a briber and corrupter, a vagrant, or a pauper ; but this can hardly be reckoned as a feminine grievance, seeing that neither may a man vote if thus unfortunate or perverse. If there be a grievance at all in the matter, indeed, it is on the side of the man, as he loses his vote if a soldier on active service, whereas the woman does not lose hers let her follow what calling she will. Moreover the poll tax levied on him is just twice as high as that

Nor is it only as an elector that in Finland a woman ranks as the equal of man; she is just as eligible as he is for the office of member of Parliament. So far as the law is concerned, every constituency throughout the land might send a woman to represent it in Parliament, if it chose. Certain constituencies, indeed, do send women to represent them there. In Helsingfors for the last five years women have been formally installed, side by side with men, as law-makers, critics of the Government, framers of interpellations; and there is no valid reason why they should not become Ministers any day were such Tsar Nicholas' pleasure.

levied on her.

Thus the town really ought to be the Féministes’ Mecca ; one might expect to find suffragists from all parts of the world flocking there themselves and exhorting their opponents to do likewise.

Oddly enough, however, this is far from being the case, as I soon discovered when I announced my intention of going there; for neither from English suffragists nor yet from foreign did I receive any encouragement at all. On the contrary there was a tendency among them, a's I noticed with wonder, to look askance on my project as on something ill-advised. The distinguished English suffragist was by no means the only member of her party who held that it would be better for me to go to the South Seas; while the most brilliant of all foreign suffragists seemed to think that it would be better for me to go anywhere rather than to Finland. This lady waxed mournful at once when she heard where I was going.

'We must admit, I am afraid, that in Finland the change was made a little too suddenly,' she remarked with a sigh.

• The women there were perhaps hardly ready for votes.'

Evidently she, as her English colleague, was none too proud of this land where her party had scored its first complete victory, was none too sure that the experiment being tried there was working quite satisfactorily. Yet in Finland this experiment, the experiment of placing women politically on a par with men, is certainly, being tried under favourable conditions. I doubt, indeed, whether it could be tried in any other country in Europe under conditions equally favourable, with so little risk, at any rate, of entailing disaster.

Finland is a very small country, it must be remembered. It has only some three million inhabitants all told; and it is a country barred by its position from dealing with high politics. It has no foreign policy to decide upon, no question of national defence to consider; it can neither make friends for itself among other nations nor get foes, but must adopt as its own Russia's friends, Russia's foes, and trust to Russia to defend it. Thus it could not, even if it would, work havoc internationally. It is not free indeed to manage its own affairs in its own way. Although in theory autonomous, in practice it has but little control over its Government, the members of which are appointed by the Russian Tsar, and do what he, or rather what his chief adviser, tells them to do. It cannot even rid itself of an obnoxious Minister, no matter how obnoxious he may be. Practically all that the Finnish Parliament can do, under the present régime, is to utter protests and to pass Bills; and this in the circumstances is heart-breaking work, useless to boot, for the most part; as no heed is paid to its protests, while as for its Bills, they cannot become laws unless the Tsar sanctions them, and sanction them as a rule he does not.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »