Paterson - advocate of hospital without walls

Superintendent set up community nursing without official support

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 January, 2013, 4:21am

One of the key figures in Hong Kong's health services sector, Dr Edward Hamilton Paterson, died on Saturday at the age of 92.

Paterson was medical superintendent at the Nethersole Hospital and then at the United Christian Hospital from the 1960s to 1980s.

He and his wife retired from Hong Kong in 1989 and have lived in Taunton, England since. He was hospitalised for a chest infection shortly before he died.

Paterson was known for advocating a "hospital without walls" - improving people's health within the community.

As medical superintendent of the United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong, he set up health centres in housing estates and obtained funds for community nursing, although the concept had not been accepted by the government at first.

"We felt that unless some attempt was made to 'turn off the tap' - to reduce significantly the load of sickness generated in the community and raise the health level of the people - the hospital's services could never be more than a heroic rearguard holding action against the flood of ill health," Paterson wrote in the British Medical Journal in January 1980. Paterson was awarded the degree of Doctor of Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong in 1985.

Professor Francis Charles Timothy Moore, who delivered the citation then, said Paterson was a pioneer in recognising the importance of community medicine in city environments.

Paterson was born to a missionary family and he also became a senior missionary with the London Missionary Society, now the Council for World Mission. Moore called him a "missionary from Scotland but son of Chinese soil".

His father was a physician and his mother a nurse at the society's hospitals in Hubei .

He was born in Lushan, a mountain retreat in Jiangxi .

After graduating from Middlesex Hospital Medical School in England and working in a hospital in Tianjin , he came to Hong Kong and joined the Alice Ho Miu Ling Hospital, then in Bonham Road.

He was a board member of the Junk Bay Medical Relief Council and a member of the Medical Development Advisory Committee.