The RHH is now Tasmania's largest hospital and the major referral centre. Providing acute, sub-acute, mental health and aged care inpatient and ambulatory services to approximately 249 000 people in the Southern Tasmanian region. The RHH is the second longest running institution in Tasmania and employs over 3,000 people.
Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales, ordered the construction of the first hospital building for Hobart during his visit to Van Diemen's Land in 1811 - the same governor who in 1810 set aside land for the building of Sydney's first permanent hospital in Macquarie Street (later known as "The Rum Hospital"). In 1820 the first purpose-built hospital – the "new general hospital" – was opened on the site of the current RHH. Prior to this, patients were treated in tents, wooden huts or rented premises along the Hobart Rivulet.
The original two-storey 1820 building contained four wards and could comfortably accommodate 56 patients, although there are accounts of more than 70 patients being cared for at a time.
During the 1880s the hospital went through a lot of redevelopments which saw new buildings and clean wards replacing buildings associated with the 'convict hospital' of the past. With the opening of the children's block in 1910 the number of beds in the hospital reached 175, and this grew to 250 beds by 1925.
Noted for its handsome style of construction, the original sandstone buildings were demolished in the late 1930s as the new acute building, today known as "C" block, opened with 304 beds, making the hospital one of the most up-to-date hospitals in the country.
After a car accident in 1935 the Premier of the time, Albert Ogilvie, spent ten days recovering from a fractured nose and chest injuries in the hospital. Following his stay Premier Ogilvie decided a more modern building was required and persuaded Cabinet to back this development.
Each passing decade saw old buildings replaced with more modern structures. Like many hospitals, redevelopment work has been fairly continuous at our hospital. Over the years many millions of dollars have gone into creating and maintaining the modern facilities available today.
In the early twentieth century there was some controversy around the hospital becoming a public health facility. In 1937 the title of "Royal" was conferred on the hospital, together with a coat of arms with heraldry representing a teaching hospital in the City and Port of Hobart and a Latin motto which translates as 'To Care with Compassion'.
The post-war decades saw further physical development of the hospital along with the securing of postgraduate recognition in many specialities and the attainment of the status of an undergraduate teaching hospital.
1970 saw the official opening of the North East Building, now known as A Block, by HRH Queen Elizabeth II.
Between 1995 and 1999 a series of significant projects were undertaken to upgrade and redevelop nearly 80 per cent of the campus to support its status as a tertiary and teaching centre. Also in 1999, the Hobart Private Hospital was co-located on to the Royal site, occupying the Queen Alexandra Wing.
Recent developments have included a new $15.4 million Emergency Department opened in March 2007 and the "infill" building completed in late 2007 containing the state's first combined neonatal and paediatric intensive care unit, an expanded pain management clinic, two new operating theatres and recovery rooms and additional support areas.
Exploring historic photos of the RHH
Enjoy this short clip exploring the history of the Royal Hobart Hospital through Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) images.