Beveridge, John

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John Beveridge AO

MB BS 1947

John Beveridge was Foundation Professor of Paediatrics at the University of NSW and was key in the development of the Sydney Children’s Hospital.

John graduated from the University of Sydney with the University Medal in Medicine, having come first in all but one of the subjects taken in his two degrees. He took up a residency at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Concord Hospital, where he remained for four years. In 1951, he began studying paediatrics at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children and within a year had become Chief Resident Medical Officer, a role he retained for three years. During this time he realised that paediatrics was the work he wanted to do. From the start, he is remembered for his high standards of service and care:

He insisted on meticulous clinical standards and record keeping. Similarly, he demanded from others the same dedication he took for granted in himself; if a child in his care was seriously ill, Beveridge was often found sleeping beside the child’s cot. Beveridge’s work, against strong opposition, helped transform the Royal Alexandra (of which he had become chief resident medical officer) from a cottage hospital into a potentially great teaching hospital. He travelled widely overseas, broadening his experience and knowledge (and in later years, making an international reputation).[1]

In the late 1950s, John fostered outreach programs which took paediatrics specialists to outback NSW, as well as doing country rounds in the north-west of the State in person and visiting Mauritius, Fiji, PNG and Vanuatu.[1] Concurrently, he established himself in private practice in Macquarie Street.

In 1962, he was appointed Foundation Professor of Paediatrics at the University of NSW and Clinical Director of the Prince of Wales Children’s Hospital, the building of which became his life’s work. Professor John Yu said of him, “John Beveridge and the Prince of Wales Children’s Hospital are synonymous: he conceived the hospital and built it brick by brick, ensuring that it met his own personal standards of excellence.” Les White adds:

"The clinical service grew from borrowed wards at Prince Henry Hospital to refurbished army huts at the Prince of Wales Hospital Group, then expanding into the new buildings of the Prince of Wales Children’s Hospital in 1976. JB was absolutely in charge of all aspects of the service and its various stages of redevelopment.[1]" The Sydney Children’s Hospital became a model of child-centred hospital design and practices.

John also held a prominent position in the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. In this capacity he held enormous influence on policy and practice development within and beyond paediatrics. From 1970 to 1981, he served as the first Paediatric Censor of the College and was a member of Council from 1977 to 1983. He also served on Government and Health Department committees, even after his retirement.

In 1978, John was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for “services to medicine, particularly as a clinical paediatrician”.[1] He was awarded the Medal of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 1988 and the Howard Williams Medal from the Australasian College of Physicians in 1995.

Citation: Mellor, Lise (2008) Beveridge, John. Faculty of Medicine Online Museum and Archive, University of Sydney.

An alternate version appears in: Mellor, L. 150 Years, 150 Firsts: The People of the Faculty of Medicine (2006) Sydney, Sydney University Press.