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Judith Godden


A hospital was one of the first European institutions set up in Australia in 1788. The aim in this article is to summarise the ensuring events, and particularly to demonstrate how hospitals have dramatically changed. One theme is to clarify the nature of convict hospitals and the low level of care expected in charity hospitals during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Other themes are the impact of medical innovations, and the strong and increasingly interventionist role of the state in hospital governance. More recently, a theme has been the closure of small hospitals and the development of large hospital complexes. Throughout, the role of nurses has been crucial as they have provided the bulk of hospital care. Hospitals have always been plagued by scandals but the striking feature throughout their history in Sydney is the strength of the demand for hospital care.

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Author Biography

Judith Godden, University of Sydney

Senior Lecturer, School of Public Health, University of Sydney