During the early years of settlement of Moreton Bay, district general hospitals were commonly maintained by the public and were mostly used by travellers, the homeless and the destitute. The old convict hospital (built 1826) was run by a local voluntary committee and obtained finance from the New South Wales colonial government for the hospital's capital works and repairs.
Following the closure of the old convict hospital in January 1848, the president of the Moreton Bay Benevolent Society, Captain Wickham, appealed to the Colonial Secretary for the convict hospital to be retained. Approval was given for the `Moreton Bay District Hospital' (previously Her Majesty's Moreton Bay Hospital) to be transferred to a civilian committee which would administer the hospital. Trustees were appointed on 19 August 1848, and the hospital was formally established in October 1848 when the convict hospital was handed over to the trustees of the Moreton Bay District Hospital. The first formal meeting of the committee was held on 12 January 1849 when officials were appointed and rules established. A committee decision led to a name change from Moreton Bay District Hospital to the Brisbane Hospital on 1 January 1851. A new and larger hospital was constructed on a new site in 1866.
Prior to separation, the New South Wales colonial government took responsibility for the care of those who suffered from psychiatric illnesses by transferring most patients from the Brisbane Hospital to Tarban Creek Asylum in Sydney or by putting them into gaol with criminals. After separation, the Queensland government built a "lunatic asylum" at Woogaroo in 1865, removing this function from the Brisbane Hospital.
Early hospitals were responsible for the care of the elderly, the infirm and the desolated. The establishment of the Benevolent Asylum at Dunwich, Stradbroke Island (1865) and the creation of a Board administering outdoor relief (1867) relieved the hospital committee of these responsibilities.
On 21 Apr 1966, Her Majesty the Queen gave consent for the use of the prefix "Royal" for the Brisbane Hospital as recognition for the advanced development of the hospital throughout the century.
Initially, the central function of the hospital was to provide medical care to the injured and to those with concentrated episodes of disease. From its creation, the hospital also provided accommodation for the chronically disabled as well as indoor and outdoor relief for benevolent patients.
Over time, the hospital's role expanded and its functions increased to include: medical care; medicine-research; medicine-study and teaching; nurses-education and training; and public health. The Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital has a prominent role in providing specialised hospital treatment, including maternity care, and as a major teaching hospital.
During a public meeting, the committee and trustees of the Moreton Bay District Hospital were appointed by subscribers in accordance with the relevant legislation. Initially the administering hospital committee was elected at annual meetings which involved selecting a president, treasurer and a secretary. A Resident surgeon and a Visiting surgeon were also elected at this time. Additionally, the Moreton Bay Benevolent Society, which was formed in 1844, amalgamated with the hospital committee.
Although technically under the control of the New South Wales Colonial Secretary, between 1851-1859 the Brisbane Hospital was controlled within the Queensland colony by the Police Magistrate, Moreton Bay later Government Resident. After Queensland became a separate colony in 1859 this responsibility transferred to the Queensland Colonial Secretary.
From 1896-1924, the Home Secretary's Office was the parent body of the Brisbane Hospital. The Office became increasingly involved in general hospital management, particularly when it secured responsibility for the Brisbane Hospital in 1917, and with the establishment of the new District Hospital Board in 1923.
The "Hospitals Act of 1923" established the Brisbane and South Coast Hospitals District and a Board similarly named. The Brisbane Hospital was maintained, managed, and regulated by the District Board headed by a chairperson. Initially, the board comprised nine members consisting of contributors, local authorities, and the government (no medical representatives).
In 1944, the amended "Hospitals Act" abolished the voluntary hospital system giving the government complete control of the State hospital system under the jurisdiction of district boards. The government accordingly increased its representation on the hospital board which generally consisted of between five to nine members. The "Hospitals Act Amendment of 1955" led to the appointment of assistant inspectors of Hospitals.
Following a change of government in 1957, medical practitioners were entitled to be appointed to the hospital boards. The Brisbane Hospital came under the jurisdiction of the North Brisbane Hospitals Board on 1 Jul 1959.
The enactment of the "Health Services Act 1991" led to the largest reorganisation of Queensland's public health services as regional offices were established and Hospital Boards were replaced with Regional Health Authorities. Consequently, administration of the Royal Brisbane Hospital was transferred from the North Brisbane Hospitals Board to the Brisbane North Regional Health Authority. This Authority was headed by a Regional Director who administered the public health services affecting the North Brisbane region and who was directly responsible to the Director General.
With the enactment of the "Health Legislation Amendment Act 1996", control of the hospital was thereafter administered by Queensland Health through a Health Service District system. The Royal Brisbane Hospital was part of the district entitled 'Royal Brisbane Hospital District'. This District Health Service came under the administration of the Health Services Division of Queensland Health, headed by a District Manager. In addition, a District Health Council was established for each district under the 1996 Amendment. The council, headed by a chairperson, consisted of at least eight members who were appointed by the Governor in Council.
The Royal Brisbane Hospital and the Royal Women's Hospital merged to become the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital in 2003, and the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital Health Service District was established.
Colonial Secretary, New South Wales, 3 Oct 1848 - 10 Dec 1859
Colonial Secretary 10 Dec 1859 - 6 Aug 1896
Home Secretary 6 Aug 1896 - 5 Dec 1935,
Secretary for Health and Home Affairs 5 Dec 1935 - 12 Aug 1957
Minister for Health and Home Affairs 12 Aug 1957 - 26 Sep 1963
Minister for Health 26 Sep 1963 - 6 Feb 1986
Minister for Health and Environment 6 Feb 1986 - 9 Dec 1987
Minister for Health 9 Dec 1987 - 31 Aug 1989
Minister for Health and Attorney-General 31 Aug 1989 - 25 Sept 1989
Minister for Health 25 Sept 1989 - current