|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
The Chief Secretary was responsible for the administration of the Hospitals and Charities Acts until 1923. Following the proclamation of the Hospitals and Charities Act 1922 (No.3260) the Charities Board of Victoria (VA 2707) was established and responsibility for the administration of hospitals and charities was assumed by the Treasurer (VRG 23). In 1944, under the provisions of the Ministry of Health Act 1943 (No.4988) the Minister of Health (VRG 39) assumed responsibility for the Charities Board.
Establishment of the Hospitals and Charities Commission
The Hospitals and Charities Commission was established in 1948 under the provisions of the Hospitals and Charities Act 1948 (No.5300). The Commission assumed responsibility for functions previously administered by the Charities Board. The Commission consisted of three full time members appointed by the Governor-in-Council, of whom one was to be a person qualified in hospital administration.
In summary the functions for which the Commission was responsible were:
establishment and management of public hospitals and later community health centres
midwifery and infant care
recruitment, training and conditions of employment for nurses
training of hospital administrators
classification and training of medical staff
registration and management of agencies providing residential care for the aged, the destitute, children, convalescent and chronically ill patients and physically or sensorily disabled persons.
Powers and Responsibilities of the Hospitals and Charities Commission
The Hospitals and Charities Commission, like its predecessor, was responsible for determining what charitable relief was required to meet the needs of persons resident in Victoria and which institutions and benevolent societies should be subsidized. The Commission was also responsible for the financial administration of the Hospitals and Charities Fund and for the allocation of funds for salaries and expenses of the Commission and its officers and employees, for the establishment and maintenance of subsidized institutions and benevolent societies and for capital works and the purchase of equipment.
The Commission was responsible for the registration and inspection of hospitals and unsubsidized institutions and the administration and financial management of all subsidized institutions and benevolent societies. Under certain conditions the Commission could recommend the closure or amalgamation of subsidized institutions other than those run by religious denominations.
The Act required that institutions and benevolent societies other than those exempt from the provisions of the Act (see section 4) be registered with the Commission which was empowered to cancel or amend the registration of an institution. Unregistered institutions were not eligible to receive government funding and were prohibited from seeking voluntary contributions and no institution could be established without the prior consent of the Commission.
One of the major functions of the Commission was the co-ordination and rationalisation of hospital and institutional activities and it was empowered to make recommendations regarding the amendment of existing legislation and proposals for "the improvement of and prevention of overlapping in, the administration of institutions and benevolent societies" (section 18). The Commission exercised control over the allocation of funds and institutions were required to submit their budgets for approval. The Commission also exercised control over capital works and could determine the location and extent of all new buildings, the accommodation to be provided and the allocation of beds between , intermediate and public wards.
The Commission was also empowered to establish a bureau to assist in the admission of patients to hospitals and to furnish information in relation to nursing and hospital matters; to authorise or require the committee of management of any hospital to establish facilities for the care of convalescent or incurable persons and for persons suffering a chronic illness and to require hospitals to establish and maintain district nursing services and ambulance services. All ambulance services were to be registered and were subject to the supervision of the Commission.
The Commission, at the request of the Commission of Public Health (VA 694), could also arrange for the supervision of units established for the care of persons suffering from tuberculosis but the admission and treatment of patients remained the responsibility of the Commission of Public Health.
The Commission was required to promote and arrange for the collective buying of standard equipment, furnishings and supplies and it maintained an Equipment Section which assessed and made recommendations as to the purchase of major items of furniture and equipment. The collective purchasing of standard equipment was arranged through the Victorian Hospitals' Association, a non profit company in which the hospitals were shareholders.
The Commission was to establish a system of training for hospital administrators and in consultation with the Nurses Board to make provision for the training of nurses.
The Hospitals and Charities Act 1948 also provided for the incorporation and government of hospitals and philanthropic institutions, the liability of patients, the resumption of land for the benefit of an institution and the compensation of the owners of the land, and the regulation of fund raising activities.
Establishment of the Health Commission
In 1978, following the proclamation of the Health Commission Act 1977 (No.9023), the Health Commission of Victoria (VA 652) was established in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry into Hospital and Health Services in Victoria whose report had been presented to the Minister of Health (VRG 39) in July 1975.
The establishment of the Health Commission represented a major re-organisation of health services in Victoria and for the first time responsibility for the central administration of health services was vested in a single agency. The Health Commission assumed responsibility for all functions previously administered by the Department of Health I (VA 695), the Mental Health Authority (VA 692), the Commission of Public Health (VA 694) and the Hospitals and Charities Commission. The Health Commission Act 1977 also provided for the transfer to the Public Service of all staff previously employed by the Hospitals and Charities Commission.
NOTE: For further information about the administration of health in Victoria for the period 1836 to 1989 see VRG 39 Health.
Location of Records
For records of the Hospitals and Charities Commission and its predecessor see also List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.11.4. For records of individual health and welfare agencies see VRG 8 and the List of Holdings section 8.0.0.