The Alfred - A history. The lady with the lamp
Monday 02 Oct 2017
History of The Alfred
“The very first requirement in a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm.” ― Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing.
Florence Nightingale was a pioneer of modern nursing and her innovation and teachings are still relevant today. Although she is best remembered for her work during the Crimean War, Nightingale fundamentally changed the role of nursing in hospitals, she was a key figure in introducing new professional training standards and helped convert the world to the use of trained nurses in its hospitals. Nurses attending the Nightingale School of Nursing, established in 1860 at St Thomas’ in London were instructed in her hygiene principles, thereby reducing infections in hospital environments across England and even all the way to Colonial Australia.
In 1868 Henry Parkes, the Colonial Secretary of NSW made a direct request to Florence Nightingale for trained nurses. He wanted to raise the standard of nursing care in the colony’s hospitals. Although the Nightingale School of Nursing had only been in operation for eight years when he made his request, it had already gained an international reputation for the skill of the nurses it trained along with the vastly improved care they delivered.
The arrival of these nurses led by Miss Lucy Osborne was of considerable importance to the development of nursing in Australia, one of them was Miss Haldane Turriff, who went on to become The Alfred’s first matron.
After just one week in Australia, the group of women were charged with the care of His Royal Highness Prince Alfred after the assassination attempt on his life. Prince Alfred was third in line to the throne and the first member of the royal family to visit Australia. This controversial event led to a hospital in Melbourne being founded in his honour, in 1869 Prince Alfred returned to Melbourne to lay the foundation stone and The Alfred was opened in 1871.
From the beginning, The Alfred hospital's progressive administrators had ensured the autonomy of their nursing establishment by writing it into the hospital constitution and our first matron, Miss Haldane Turriff holds a unique place in the history of this iconic institution. She was the first formally trained nurse to practise in the Victorian colony and the first to hold a leadership role, she introduced and established nursing at The Alfred on Nightingale’s principles for promoting recovery and restoring health.
The Alfred has a rich history and from its first days has been influenced and regulated by some of the greatest medical minds and advocates of public health. It is thanks to those early pioneers that our modern community continues to have access to such a leading health care institution.