Victor Ratten

Hobart General Hospital staff, 1929, with Ratten centre (AOT, PH30/1/5445)

Victor Richard Ratten (18781962), medical practitioner, obtained his medical qualification from Harvey Medical College in Chicago in 1907. Following a dispute between the Tasmanian government and the British Medical Association in 1917, BMA doctors withdrew their services from public hospitals. The government appointed Dr Ratten as surgeon superintendent at the Hobart General Hospital. The BMA questioned his medical qualifications, but a Royal Commission found them genuine. Subsequently it was ascertained that the Harvey Medical College closed in 1905.

Ratten was reputedly a competent surgeon and provided a good service to the public. He was loved by the public and government, but hated by many of the medical profession. BMA doctors returned to the hospital in 1931. The question always raised is how an individual without medical qualifications could provide such a service.

Further reading: G Rimmer, Portrait of a Hospital, Hobart, 1981.

Michael Hodgson