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Towards a better life. Community health.

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Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)
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Credit: Towards a better life. Community health. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

About this work


A film about the work of two local doctors in the NHS. The female doctor is beginning her career in inner London and the male doctor is nearing his retirement in rural Somerset.


UK : Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1986.

Physical description

1 encoded moving image (26.20 min.) : sound, color.



Copyright note

Crown copyright, managed by BFI.

Terms of use

Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales

Language note

In English

Creator/production credits

Made by London Television Service. Script by Olive Braman, filmed by Keith Taylor, sound by Paul Vigars, edited by Fred Goodland, directed by Keith Evans and produced by Annabel Olivier Wright.


This video was made from material preserved by the BFI National Archive


Segment 1 Opening credits. Dawn in the village of Porlock, Somerset is seen. GP Keith Lister is driving through the village. The narrator introduces him and says that he has been working in the NHS since it began 35 years previously and will soon retire. GP Iona Heath is introduced; she is a GP in Kentish Town, London, and has recently begun her career. The narrator explains the work of a GP and how much of the NHS budget they use. Iona examines a boy with an injured eye at her clinic. She talks about how a GP is the first point of call for patients. Keith talks about how a GP is a 'friend of the people'. The narrator describes him as the 'traditional image of a paternal country doctor'. He works single-handed in the village surgery and so must always be available. Time start: 00:00:00:00 Time end: 00:05:15:06 Length: 00:05:15:06
Segment 2 The staff of Iona's health centre are seen; there are 100 of them and they care for 30,000 patients. The narrator discusses the work of health centres in Britain. The various departments of the Kentish Town health centre are seen: dental, chiropody, physiotherapy, creche and antenatal care. Iona sees a male patient with swollen feet. She discusses the efficiency of the clinic - referring patients to nurses before examining them. The medical records section is seen; Iona says this is a problem as they need so much storage. Iona talks to an elderly male patient about a pain in his leg. She examines him in another room. The patient talks about the excellent care at the health centre and how well he was treated for a mild heart attack a few years previously. Time start: 00:05:15:06 Time end: 00:10:02:08 Length: 00:04:47:02
Segment 3 A trainee doctors staff meeting is seen. The narrator explains how trainee GPs study and work at the same time at the clinic. Keith's Porlock surgery is seen. A specialist from the local hospital is visiting to give an elderly woman an ECG. Keith goes on a house call to visit an ill child, and the narrator explains that Keith must go on many home visits. He makes a house call to an elderly man and to a farm in the hills to see a girl with a broken leg. He talks about how much he prefers the NHS to private practice. Time start: 00:10:02:08 Time end: 00:15:11:16 Length: 00:05:09:08
Segment 4 Whilst driving, Keith is stopped by a farmer in a van to examine his finger. Keith writes a prescription from his car. Iona discusses the social mix of her area of London. In a staff meeting, the doctors at her clinic talk about working with people who are soon to retire to discuss their health needs as they age. Iona says that people need to be more proactive about their health; an exercise class is seen. She talks about the range of services available, including a language class and the creche. A baby clinic in Keith's surgery is seen; he holds it once a month. He talks about how single-handed doctors might be a dying breed. The narrator explains that by visiting elderly patients in the village once a month, Keith has reduced the number of strokes per year. The local hospital is seen. The local district nurse is seen making a house visit in the village. The narrator discusses the rising number of elderly patients in the village. Time start: 00:15:11:16 Time end: 00:20:25:10 Length: 00:05:13:19
Segment 5 Iona talks about Geriatric Visitors who make house calls to the elderly in Kentish Town. The health centre's baby clinic is seen. The local health visitor is seen making a house call to a family living in a tower block. Iona makes a house visit, and the narrator says that as there are 7 doctors in the centre, she only makes house calls for half a day a week. The elderly man she was examining previously in the film mentions that his wife is feeling very ill. She makes a house call to her and examines her. Iona and Keith both talk about the NHS and how important it is. Time start: 00:20:25:10 Time end: 00:26:19:24 Length: 00:05:54:14



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