Victorian Powys for primary  schools
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Care of the poor
  The health of the poor  

In Victorian times there was no National Health Service, and sick paupers who could not pay for a doctor became the responsibility of the Rhayader Union.
The records of the Union show the treatments given by the Union's Medical Officer (like the one on the right). These appear to be mainly broken bones and sprains and fevers. Many conditions had no cure at that time of more primitive medicine.
Poor people who lived in damp and dirty houses and had a poor diet were often badly affected by diseases like measles and flu, which today are not as serious. Modern drugs like antibiotics were not available in Victorian times.

There were advances in medicine though, as this entry from the Rhayader Union's records for 1847 shows. It records that the Union arranged and paid for a new treatment !

Medical Officer

It tells how the Union had arranged "for the vaccination of all persons resident in the Union at one shilling for each case:-"

Although the entry does not record the disease being vaccinated against, it is likely to have been smallpox, a disease which used to kill many poor people or leave them disfigured.


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