The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) began in 1848 as Victoria’s first public hospital. And while we only had 10 beds to our name, we had the community of Melbourne behind us, and we were ready to provide the best possible care for those in need. 

Since those early years, we’ve moved forward with purpose. Always at the forefront, leading the way on improving the quality of life for all.

Today, the RMH is one of the largest health providers in the state, providing a comprehensive range of specialist medical, surgical, and mental health services; as well as rehabilitation, aged care, outpatient and community programs.

Our care extends from the City through Royal Park and 32 mental health services across the north-western suburbs of Melbourne. We are a designated state-wide provider for services including trauma, and we lead centres of excellence for tertiary services in several key specialties including neurosciences, nephrology, oncology, cardiology and virtual health.

We are surrounded by a precinct of brilliant thinkers, and we’re constantly collaborating to set new benchmarks in health excellence – benchmarks that impact across the globe. This includes the world-renowned Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, our joint venture with the University of Melbourne.

And while the work we’re doing takes us in inspiring new directions, we lead with kindness that defines a better standard of care.

Our people of more than 11,000 strong, embody who we are and what we stand for. Our reputation for caring for all Melburnians is as essential to who we are as any scientific breakthrough we make. We’re here when it matters most, and we’ll continue to be the first to speak out for our diverse community’s wellbeing.

Firsts at the RMH

An iconic organisation is so much more than the bricks and mortar which house it. The potency of its history is derived from the calibre of the people who worked there, the immense challenges they overcame and the extraordinary milestones they achieved.

For over 170 years, The Royal Melbourne Hospital has been at the forefront of many Australian firsts and world-renowned innovations:

  • pioneering work at the hospital in anaesthetics in 1902 lead to the discovery that sudden death under chloroform was due to cardiac and not respiratory failure
  • Australia's first full-time qualified specialist radiologist is appointed to the hospital in 1925
  • Victoria's first blood transfusion service established at the hospital in 1929 and the employment of the first dietician in an Australian hospital employment of the first dietician in an Australian hospital
  • leader in the provision of welfare services to patients with the employment in 1929 of the first social worker in an Australian hospital
  • first Australian specialised dietetics department established in 1929
  • in the 1940 and 1950s, early research in neurology and on radiological examination of the brain culminated in the publication in 1957 of pneumoencephalography which became a seminal text used world-wide
  • discovery of Malignant Hyperthermia in 1960 following investigations into one family's history of anaesthetic deaths
  • first successful kidney transplant in Australia in 1963
  • Australia's first university chair in Radiology is created in 1965 jointly at the hospital and the University of Melbourne
  • development of Australia's first cardiac pacemaker in 1965
  • World's first 'free flap' reconstructive micro-vascular surgery operation is performed by a RMH plastic surgeon in 1973
  • formation of the Vascular Surgery Unit in 1975, the first of its kind in Australasia to specialise in arterial surgery
  • in the 1970s, diabetes research led to received international acclaim and citations for our doctors for their work in clarifying the relationship between insulin receptor in cells and the action of insulin
  • Australia's first Coronary Angioplasty, performed at RMH in 1979, commencing a new era in endovascular surgery with arterial ballooning and stenting
  • Establishment of the first Bowel Cancer Registry in Australia in 1979 and pivotal groundwork for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is undertaken following studies by RMH doctors on bleeding patterns in colorectal cancer and benign tumours
  • in a world first, RMH doctors, in the 1980s, invent artificial blood vessels - 'omniflow' biovascular grafts made of collagen and used worldwide as substitute arteries and for dialysis treatment
  • the first implantable cardioverter defibrillator operation in the southern hemisphere is performed at the RMH in 1984
  • a vascular atlas of the human body is created in the late 1980s by RMH reconstructive and plastic surgeons
  • Australia's first bionic ear electrode for the brain implanted at the RMH in 1995
  • in 1996, Australia's first keyhole coronary bypass operation was performed without a heart / lung machine
  • World's first Aortic Stent Graft occurred in the 1996 when vascular surgeons at RMH implanted the first Talent graft in a human and repaired the world's first traumatic thoracic aortic rupture using an endograft
  • pivotal clinical trials in the 1990s in the use of Colony Stimulating Factors revolutionised cancer therapies worldwide and made cytokine therapy with G-CSF and GM-CSF a standard of care in cancer medicine
  • in the 1990s, hospital psychiatrists lead Victoria's move from an asylum-based system to a general health and hospital-based system, and the establishment of area-based mental health services
  • in 2000, the RMH was the first Australian hospital, and only the second in the world, to use computer assisted surgery, initially in joint replacement surgery
  • in 2001, the RMH has opened Victoria's first dedicated Stroke Unit and in 2010 appointed Australia's first stroke nurse practitioner
  • in 2001, the RMH is one of the first hospitals in the world to introduce wireless "Pill Cam" endoscopy use
  • October 2002, the hospital is designated as a Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Infectious Diseases. In 2006, our Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory is selected as one of only four World Health Organisation Global Specialised Influenza Laboratories worldwide
  • RMH in 2003 becomes the first Australian hospital to incorporate leading edge audiovisual technology with the installation of interactive telesurgery equipment
  • March 2006, RMH performs the world's first implant of cultured specialist stem cells in an orthopaedic patient
  • In 2011, RMH neurosurgeons pioneer Victoria's latest breakthrough in neurosurgery using a drug known as Gliolan, which makes cancerous brain tissue glow a fluorescent pink, giving patients access to cutting-edge technology and improving surgical outcomes
  • Announced in 2012 in a world first, RMH researchers are investigating the use of Botox to reduce the debilitating tremors and shakes in people with multiple sclerosis
  • May 2014, six patients received a kidney in Australia's first 6-paired kidney transplant
  • The Doherty Institute, a world leader in education, teaching and research excellence, opens in 2014. The insititute is a joint venture of The Royal Melbourne Hospital and the University of Melbourne
  • An Australian first, the RMH launched Australia’s first Indigenous Internship Program in 2014 to support an Indigenous medical student through their internship and first year as a House Medical Officer (HMO)
  • The 2014 staff influenza vaccination program achieved a vaccination rate of 95 percent compliance—the highest result ever achieved by an Australian health service
  • In early 2015, RMH clinical staff participated in the Speaking Up for Patient Safety survey, the first of its kind ever undertaken by an Australian hospital
  • New study “game-changer” for stroke treatment worldwide was announced in 2015, enabling the dramatic improvements in the treatment of stroke patients

  • July 2015 saw a new intraoperative MRI installed, enabling surgeons to image a patient via an MRI scanner while a patient is undergoing surgery
  • In 2015 Royal Park Campus opened movement lab that uses 3D motion capture
  • technology, allowing doctors to detect human movement that is not visible to the naked eye, helping them develop targeted treatments to help patients
    improve their walking and balance
  • January 2016 saw the announcement of a world-first clinical trial, where RMH, PeterMac and WEHI medical researchers have shown that patients with an advanced form of leukaemia can achieve complete remission with a novel tablet treatment, using the drug Venetoclax
  • In April and May 2016, patients from our cancer wards and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) moved into two brand new spaces; a 32-bed Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant ward and a 42-bed capacity ICU. These were constructed as part of the VCCC project

  • World first stem cell trial for Parkinson’s disease starts in September 2016, using a new revolutionary type of stem cell that is injected into the brain in a bid to cure Parkinson’s disease

  • Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews officially opened the the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre in July 2016. The VCCC will house 1200 cancer researchers from RMH, Peter Mac and University of Melbourne. United States Vice President, Joe Biden, spoke at the opening

  • In last 2016, Australian first stroke ambulance was announced, with the aim to save more lives by providing the quickest possible diagnosis and treatment for patients suffering a life threatening stroke

  • In early 2017, an Australian-led global study shed new light on therapy choices for Multiple Sclerosis patients, helping to find the right treatment for the right patient at the right time

  • The Clinical Trials Centre was opening August 2017, enabling patients increased access to the world’s newest medical breakthroughs

  • In an Australian first, the Virtual Fracture Clinic , which commenced in 2018, lets more people with fractures have their local GPs manage their injury, instead of being seen by a hospital orthopaedic specialist

  • July 2018 saw a trial commence to determine if a simple stick of peppermint chewing gum can help to treat patients who feel nauseous after surgery

  • In April 2018, RMH and the University of Melbourne, a breakthrough in stroke medical research found a drug, traditionally used for heart attacks, dissolves blood clots in the brain faster and more effectively than standard stroke drugs

  • The Stentrode™ was announced in December 2018. It is a tiny device that electrically stimulates the brain and could one day be used to treat conditions such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease without invasive surgery. Clinical trials were scheduled to start in 2019/20

  • In February 2019, our new $9.3 million state-of-the-art Acute Stroke and Neurology Ward opened its doors to Victorians

  • Our Bone Marrow Transplant service received international recognition in May 2019 as one of the best in the world

  • Stroke researchers look to the skies for latest breakthrough, announcing plans in August 2019 to develop the world’s first stroke air ambulance. This incredible innovation has the potential to transform access to emergency stroke treatment for people in rural and regional areas

  • In October 2019, the RMH performs 1000th live kidney transplant. The RMH is one of the largest transplant services in Australia and the first to reach 1000 live donor kidney transplants

  • A new Phase III trial announced in December 2019 and led by The Royal Melbourne Hospital is investigating shifting the treatment time for stroke to 24 hours, enabling more patients to be treated

  • In January 2020, scientists from the Doherty Institute were the first to grow and share the novel coronavirus, COVID-19

  • RMH ED staff created a platform in June 2020 to monitor patients for COVID symptoms outside of the hospital, by using pulse oximeters to measure oxygen levels in the blood and send this data back to the hospital via a patient's smart phone

  • August 2020 sees the launch of the Parkville Precinct Electronic Medical Records systtem, linking RMH, PeterMac, The Royal Children's Hospital and The Women's into a combined system to support the delivery of clinical care

  • RMH researchers working on the frontline commenced a project in September 2020 to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare workers

  • In October 2020, RMH announced that the Stentrode™, has been implanted successfully in two patients, who both suffer from severe paralysis due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – also known as motor neuron disease (MND). The tiny device has been shown to help patients with upper limb paralysis to text, email and even shop online in the first human trial

  • A world-first multi-centre international study (SPOT-AF) led by The Royal Melbourne Hospital published in October 2020 that smartphone monitoring of patients with stroke is effective in detecting atrial fibrillation (AF). Additional world-first research also revealed how your weight and genes can trigger atrial fibrillation that increases the risk of stroke

Facts & statistics

There was a slight reduction in some activity, such as transplants and elective surgeries, due to suspended operations during the COVID-19 response.

General

  • The Royal Melbourne Hospital is Victoria’s first hospital – established 1848
  • More than 10,000 staff employed across 32 sites
    • Around 7100 staff employed with The Royal Melbourne Hospital
    • Around 2050 staff employed with NorthWestern Mental Health
    • Over 1000 casual staff are utilised across the organisation
  • Over 480 volunteers across the Royal Melbourne Hospital
  • Approximately 1,400 beds across hospital and community settings
  • 364,550 meals served
  • 1 tonne of materials recycled each day from the RMH City Campus
  • 2.5 tonnes of waste disposed of each day from the RMH City Campus
  • 1.34 kilometres of underground tunnels
  • 100 sterilisation cycles each day to keep our 20,000 surgical instruments clean
  • Our robot TUGs travel 19km and make 290 deliveries each day

Patient Care

  • 78,630 people provided with urgent care in the RMH emergency department in 2019/20
  • 103,470 inpatient admissions across our acute and sub-acute services in 2019/20
  • 2,168 trauma patients treated in 2019/20
  • 208,419 outpatient appointments in 2019/20
  • 29,395 telehealth appointments in 2019/20
  • 15,611 elective procedures performed in 2019/20
  • 9,235 emergency surgeries performed in 2019/20
  • 88 kidney transplants performed in 2019/20
  • 581,214 mental health service contacts in the community in 2019/20
  • 4,650 mental health inpatient admissions in 2019/20
  • 626 helicopters landings at the RMH City Campus in 2019/20
  • RMH is the only accredited level 1 Trauma Centre in Victoria - benchmarked against major trauma centres around the world
  • RMH provides the fastest emergency stroke treatment in Australia - door to needle time treatment in 25 minutes

Research

  • Over 330 new human research studies and quality assurance projects approved each year
  • Over 1100 active human research studies underway, of which 375 are active clinical trials
  • 70 new clinical trials of drugs or devices commenced in the 2019/20 financial year
  • More than 1100 research publications and review articles were published in peer-reviewed journals in 2020
  • $20.4 million in education and research funding was secured in 2019/20
  • Education
  • 80 medical interns appointed at the RMH in 2021
  • 130 enrolled in our Graduate Nurse Program in 2021
  • 60 Post Graduate nursing students in 2021

Patient safety and quality of care

More information about our patient safety and the quality of our care is available on the Federal Government's My Hospitals website:

RMH Foundation

The purpose of the Royal Melbourne Hospital Foundation is to improve the health of communities served by The Royal Melbourne Hospital through the support of quality healthcare services, support of innovative research, and the education of health professionals across our hospital.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital Foundation encourages the community, organisations and businesses to support the services of The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Donations to the Royal Melbourne Hospital Foundation help improve patient care, purchase life-saving medical equipment, and ensure our research teams continue to find better ways to cure our patients.

Find out more about the Royal Melbourne Hospital Foundation.