Obituary: Paul Ramsay


APHA mourns the passing of Paul Ramsay – a pioneer of private hospitals in AustraliaPaul Ramsay AO, chairman and founder of Ramsay Health Care, passed away on 1 May 2014 after suffering a heart attack. I have not been known to write in this column about Ramsay matters, but as Paul was a pioneer of private hospitals in Australia, I feel compelled to use this opportunity to acknowledge him for his contribution to private healthcare and the establishment of private hospitals in this country.

This year was the 50th anniversary of the opening of Paul’s first private hospital in Mosman, Sydney. His first private hospital was a mental health facility – just 16 beds. From here, he went on to establish several more psychiatric hospitals in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne as well as regional medical/surgical hospitals in Coffs Harbour, Albury and Tamworth. These hospitals still operate today and are all major employers and industries in their respective regions.

During the ’90s, he won the tender to privatise the two repatriation hospitals in Queensland and Western Australia, a major achievement at the time. His father flew in World War I and Paul was a great admirer and always respectful of veterans and the contribution they made to their country.

At the time of his death, Paul was chairman of a global hospital company, operating 69 hospitals in Australia and 151 facilities throughout the world. But size never mattered to him. His motto, which has permeated the whole organisation over the decades, was always: ‘Look after the patients; look after the staff; and the rest will follow’. He was a believer in loyalty, humility and love. He fostered a strong staff culture, good patient outcomes and developed strong relationships with all stakeholders.

During his life, Paul had been a generous benefactor to dozens of charities and worthy causes and, so it came as little wonder, that in death he bequeathed $3 billion to charity – the biggest single donation in Australia’s history. Thanks to this incredible act of generosity, the bulk of Paul’s estate will now be of enduring benefit to the Australian community.

Paul grew up in Bowral, New South Wales, the son of Oscar, a land surveyor and Mary. He is survived by his twin sister Anne and his brother Peter. In an interesting aside, his maternal grandfather was Sir Austin Chapman, the first Federal Member for Eden Monaro and a former Minister for Health. During his time as MP, Sir Chapman won the battle to have the new federal capital in his own electorate and is acknowledged as the ‘Father of Canberra’.

Paul will be forever remembered for his contribution to private healthcare and hospitals in Australia. He was a wonderful person, a true gentleman and a great friend to many of us. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, colleagues, staff and doctors and anyone that knew him, throughout the world