Child, Donald Stewart

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MB BS 1956 FRACP FRACMA

Donald served for 20 years as General Superintendent of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and introduced academic headships of departments.

After graduating, Donald Child worked at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital as a Resident Medical Officer and became Clinical Superintendent of the Page Chest Pavilion in 1961. Child attained Membership of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 1960, elevated to Fellowship in 1971. He also became a Fellow of the Australian (now Australasian) College of Medical Administrators in 1968. His career as a medical administrator began midway through 1961 when he was appointed Assistant General Superintendent and Deputy Chief Executive Officer to Edgar Thomson at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

In November 1966, Edgar Thomson resigned to become General Secretary of the Australian Medical Association, and in February 1967 Child was appointed General Superintendent of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, a position he retained until 1987. Of his time in this role, Child says:

The 20 years of my stewardship were exciting years in medicine. The advances in knowledge and technology necessitated change and adaptation. During most of these years, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital had considerable independence, having its own Act of Parliament and its own Board of Directors. I would have described it as the flagship of the public hospital system.

During his time as General Superintendent, a much closer association developed between the University and its Medicine Faculty. Academic headship of Departments was introduced, Divisions of Medicine, Surgery and Obstetrics & Gynaecology were established and numerous full-time specialist staff were engaged. There were also extensive physical changes to the premises involving complex planning activities.

Since resigning in September 1987, Child has undertaken consultancy work with the NSW Department of Health and other interstate bodies, mostly in the area of medical industrial matters and project planning. In addition, he has had a long-term association with the New South Wales Medical Board, serving on a considerable number of disciplinary and other bodies established under the Medical Practice Act. Since 1997, he has been a Medical Member of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and served as was an Official Visitor under the Mental Health Act for four years.

Donald has been a long-serving member of the National Council of the Australian Hospital Association, of which he was President from 1981 to 1982. He was one of the founding members of the Australian Council on Hospital Standards and served as Vice-President during 1979 and 1980. For many years he was also a member of the Federal Council of the Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators, again taking on the role of Vice-President between 1986 and 1987, and a member of the Council of Management of the International Hospital Federation from 1987 to 1993. In 1987 he was awarded the Sydney Sax Medal in recognition for contributions to Australian Health Services by the Australian Hospital Association, and in 1982 was awarded the College Medal from the Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators. In 1997 he was made an Honorary Life Member of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Sydney. Having joined the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps (CMF) in 1958, Child retired in 1986 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded the Efficiency Decoration for his military service.

Donald Child was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia, “For Services to Medical Administration”, in 1992.[1]

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Citation: Mellor, Lise (2008) Child, Donald Stewart. Faculty of Medicine Online Museum and Archive, University of Sydney.

An alternate version appears in: Mellor, L. 150 Years, 150 Firsts: The People of the Faculty of Medicine (2006) Sydney, Sydney University Press.