Today in Labour History
Paid Holiday for Nurses
Until the twentieth century, paid holidays were rare for manual workers, as nurses were then considered. In July 1864, the Westminster Hospital in London started giving the nurses two weeks a year of paid holiday. In this, nursing was ahead of other occupations - perhaps a recognition of its wearing nature. Many night nurses worked all day too. They were so tired they were physically unable to give the attention which patients required. Night nurses were paid only 1 shillling a night and given no food or drink. Their patients were sometimes ordered as much as half a pint of brandy, beef tea, arrowroot and other nourishments, which the hungry nurses often consumed themselves.
Carol Jelmstadter and Judith Godden, Nursing before Nightingale, 1814-1899 (2011) 60