Browse Entries

Corporate entry Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (1882 - )

25 September 1882
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Alternative Names
  • RPA (Acronym)


The hospital was funded by a public subscription and originally designed as a memorial to Prince Alfred's survival of an 1868 assassination attempt made against him in Sydney, Australia. The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA) opened in 1882 and has become a major teaching hospital and healthcare provider.


After the death of a patient at Sydney Hospital believed to be because of a lack of nursing care (the patient was described by some sources as "filthy and covered in vermin") in 1866 and consistent pressure from doctors beginning in 1857, Sir Henry Parkes and surgeon Alfred Roberts wrote to Florence Nightingale requesting help and advice on reforming hospitals in the colony of New South Wales.

In addition to the Nightingale approach to the physical design of the hospital building, the Royal Prince Alfred also employed formerly trained nurses marking a shift from untrained lay-women acting as nurses.

The University of Sydney also played a substantial role in establishing the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and continues to have a close relationship with the hospital today.

Related People

Archival resources

Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales

  • Florence Nightingale - Correspondence, 1867-1908, 1867 - 1908, MLMSS 1262; Nightingale, Florence (1820 - 1910); Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details

Royal Prince Alfred Hospital

  • Rosa Angela Kirkcaldie - Records; Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Details

State Records of South Australia

  • Royal Prince Alfred Hospital professional unit, 16 May 1960 - 14 July 1977, H3028/15; State Records of South Australia. Details
  • Royal Prince Alfred Hospital radio therapy department, 12 February 1981 - 4 February 1985, H4142/275; State Records of South Australia. Details

Published resources


  • Baker, Barry, Australia's First Anaesthetic Department: 75 Years at the RPA (Camperdown, N.S.W.: Jobson Foundation, 2005), 172 pp. Details
  • Hassal, John, RPA & Beyond: an Unauthorised Memoir (Willoughby, N.S.W.: Phillip Mathews Book Publishers, 2010), 169 pp. Details

Book Sections

  • Lewis, Milton, 'Doctors, Midwives, Puerpal Infection and the Problem of Maternal Mortality in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Sydney' in Occasional Papers on Medical History Australia, Harold Attwood; Frank Forster and Bryan Gandevia, eds (Parkville: Medical History Society, A.M.A. [Victoria Branch] and Medical History Unit, University of Melbourne, 1984), pp. 85-108. Details

Conference Papers

  • Willetts, Georgina, 'From Nightingale nurses to a modern profession: the journey of nursing in Australia', in The 13th Henry Parkes Oration (Sir Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts, Tenterfield, New South Wales: The Henry Parkes Foundation, 2015)., Details

Edited Books

  • Doherty, Muriel Knox and Russell, R. Lynette eds, The Life and Times of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia (Sydney: New South Wales College of Nursing, 1996), 352 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Gye, Richard, 'The hospital and the Medical School: one hundred years of association', RPA Magazine, 81 (1983), 11-14. Details
  • Mulvey, Margaret, 'History of Women in Medicine', RPA Magazine, 80 (1982), 30-33. Details

Resource Sections

Elizabeth Daniels