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Highland Doctor (clip)

Dramatised account of how healthcare in the Outer Hebrides was improved after 1912

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Filmed on the islands of Lewis, Harris and North Uist, and at Ullapool, Inverness, Dingwall, this dramatised account of the work of the Highlands and Islands Medical Service shows how medical facilities were improved on the recommendations of the 1912 Dewar Committee, particulalry after the introduction of the 'air ambulance'. With the exception of the specialist doctor, all the players are amateurs. Kay Mander takes a cameo role as the bicycling district nurse. The scene where the Doctor signals by flag for a ferry across to an island is the boat link to Berneray. Kay Mander being interviewed by Archive Curator in 2000 recalls that Alex Mackenzie's character of the Doctor was modelled on the local GP known as 'One eye Mackenzie' who lost an eye playing shinty as a student with John Grierson.

Questions & Activities


  • What does the simile "like thrupenny bits in a Christmas pudding" mean?
  • How is the heroism of these medical pioneers highlighted at the end?
  • How can you tell that there was a good budget for this film?
  • How is the message intensified through the use of cinematic techniques?


Standard Grade History (1830s-1930s) / Development of the welfare state / English: Write a voice over summarising the changes brought about by the Dewar Committee.

Modern Studies: People still complain about the cost of health provision in the Highlands and how it is funded through taxation and redistribution grants from the lowlands and London (e.g Barnett Formula, Revenue Funding Distribution). Research the cost differentials between health provision in different areas. Then debate the responsibility that we all have for health services and which types of services should continue to be provided free at the point of use and for whom.

Primary: Someone has badly broken a leg on the island of Benbecula. Plan the route and transportation methods that would be needed to get them to a suitable hospital in 1815 and 2010.

Transportation: Research airline and ferry transportation in the Highlands. Look into the costs and subsidies and discuss who should pay and why?

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-002-003-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 0033
Date 1912 (events depicted)1943 (film produced)
Genre Drama Documentary, Women Filmmakers
School Subject Health and Wellbeing, Geography, History, English, Modern Studies
Subject Matter Development of the Welfare State
Who Kay Mander (director), MOI for the Dept. of Health for Scotland (sponsor), Paul Rotha Productions (production company)
Where Berneray, Harris, Lewis, North Uist
Attributes Black and White, Sound
Clip Length 13:41
Film Length 21:00