NHS70

Nurses' night duties in 1959

Job roles nowadays at the Royal United Hospitals are very different to what they were like in the early days of the NHS.

The history cabinet in our Anaesthetic department contains a fascinating insight into how times have changed in nursing. The nurse's night duty list on our male orthopaedic 'A' ward in 1959 was shared with us by an ex-colleague during our celebrations of the NHS's 60th anniversary. One of the first jobs of the night was to put the kettle on.

Extract from a nurse's night duty work list from 1959:

8pm – Report on duty to Sister or Nurse in charge. Put out medicine glasses with drug slips. Check that milk and kettle are on.

8.15pm – Boys drinks. Tuck up. No coffee for boys. Give out eiderdowns if wanted.

8.45pm – Boys lights out – keep boys quiet.

10pm – Turn off TV. Lights out. Four-hourlys and medicines. Wash up and lay kitchen for breakfast.

11.30pm – 1am – Dinner at RUH between these times. Write up temp and treatment book, always keep treatment book written up one day ahead.

2am – Treatments if necessary. Sister's round. Cut dressings – a stock must always be kept. Cut bread and butter. Small tray for boys, and one or two dinner plates for men.

5.30am – Wake boys. Take temperatures and give out washing bowls and tooth mugs.

6am – Injections, if any. Wake men. Temperatures, teas, medicines, washings, bottle (urinal) round, treatments.

7.30am – Dust Sister's office. Change calendar. Light fire if cold.

8am – Give report to Sister. Off duty.

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