The Royal Newcastle Hospital Heritage Oration

The Royal Newcastle Hospital Heritage Trust, in conjunction with the University of Newcastle Foundation and Hunter New England Health, annually awards a visiting fellowship to a prominent scholar to visit and teach in Newcastle.

The Fellowship is awarded on the basis of innovative and outstanding performance in health scholarship, clinical achievement, health services and/or research relevant to at least one of the values associated with the Royal Newcastle Hospital.

The perpetual fellowship was established to commemorate the values and achievements of Royal Newcastle Hospital, which closed in 2006, and honours the hospital’s role in the improvement of healthcare for Newcastle, the Hunter Valley and beyond.

The RNH Heritage Trust Oration is an event for the interested public and is given as the opening of the Newcastle Hospitals Congress by the Royal Newcastle Hospital Heritage Trust Fellow.

The John Irvine Hunter Memorial Lecture

John Irvine Hunter (1898-1924) was a brilliant Australian medical researcher and teacher. He was the Challis Professor of Anatomy at the University of Sydney and was at the forefront of anatomy research and education until his untimely death in 1924 aged just 26. He is one of three 'John Hunters' commemorated in the Hospital's name.

The lecture series has been generously funded by Dr Irvine Hunter, the son of John Irvine Hunter, and his family through a donation to the University of Newcastle. Dr Irvine Hunter said “I feel the lecture series is a suitable means of remembering him because it epitomizes what he was striving for – excellence in education and research.” It was the family's wish that the lecture be delivered by an eminent person, on a subject of importance to medical students, particularly preventative medicine.

The Royal Newcastle Hospital Heritage Trust

From 1817 The Royal Newcastle Hospital and its predecessors served the health care needs of the people of Newcastle and surrounding areas and trained and supported thousands of health care workers.

This proud and iconic hospital closed in 2006 and services it provided for 189 years were transferred to The Royal Newcastle Centre on the Rankin Park Campus. Many people in the Hunter region and beyond recognised the contribution of the Royal Newcastle Hospital at this time of change, remembering what it gave to all of their lives: to some, saving them; to others training them for their further roles in life.

This recognition led many to express the desire to commemorate the memory of “The Royal”. In view of these wishes, The Royal Newcastle Hospital Heritage Trust was formed. This non-profit organisation aimed to perpetuate the memory, values, and achievements of the Royal. The Royal Newcastle Hospital Heritage Trust Committee was formed in May 1995 by a group of committed associates, both past and present, who were passionate about preserving the heritage and values of this fine hospital.

These values were,

  • The welfare of the patient is the first consideration
  • A critical and questioning approach to healthcare delivery
  • Cost effective delivery of service
  • Services delivered in a safe and efficient environment
  • A genuine concern of the wellbeing of health care staff

The Committee realised that to achieve a fitting tribute and memorial for “The Royal” before its demise in 2006 considerable effort should occur to bring this to fruition.

One of the aims of the Committee was to develop the Royal Newcastle Hospital Heritage Trust (RNHHT) to recognise the Hospital in perpetuity. They were fortunate to have the support of the then Hunter New England Area Health Service (and more recently, HNE Local Health District) and The University of Newcastle. This was seen as wonderful climax to the long history of a grand old hospital and an ideal way to preserve this history in perpetuity. The Trust named the Royal Newcastle Hospital Heritage Trust was established for the benefit of all health care professionals whatever their discipline.

The Royal Newcastle Heritage Trust Committee, the University of Newcastle Foundation, and Hunter New England Health launched the Royal Newcastle Hospital Heritage Trust Appeal at a luncheon on the lawns of the historic James Fletcher Hospital on Sunday 12 March 2006.

The Patron of the Trust, the well-known and respected, Dr Peter Hendry launched the RNHHT at a function on the lawns of James Fletcher Hospital in March 2006 and called upon the friends of The Royal to support this worthwhile memorial for the much loved and respected institution in perpetuity. The goal of the Trust is to annually award on the basis of innovative and outstanding performance in health scholarship, clinical achievement, health and/or research relevant to at least one of the values for which the Royal Newcastle Hospital was known – a Lecturer to visit and impart knowledge through a speaker’s tour.

It is expected that the applicants will come from anywhere in the world, will come from any field in health care delivery and have the capacity to promote their vision and ideas to the community whilst holding temporary academic status as a visiting fellow at the university.