Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Lindell, John Henry Stockton (1908–1973)

by Leonard B. Swinden

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

John Henry Stockton Lindell (1908-1973), health administrator, was born on 17 March 1908 at Moonee Ponds, Melbourne, third child of John Lindell, a manager from Sweden, and his Victorian-born wife Georgina Henrietta, née Stockton. Educated at Essendon Primary and Melbourne High schools, young John completed his Intermediate certificate in 1921. He was apprenticed to a pharmacist and studied at the Melbourne College of Pharmacy, but was considered too young at 18 to sit the final examinations.

On 2 May 1927 Lindell enlisted as a cadet in the Royal Australian Air Force. After qualifying as a pilot at Point Cook, he held a short-service commission (1928-32) in the Royal Air Force, with which he flew bombers and flying boats in England. A crash caused permanent injuries to both his legs and ankles, and left him with a slight rolling gait. Having completed his commission, he returned to Australia and was placed on the R.A.A.F. Reserve as a flying officer.

In 1933 Lindell briefly managed a pharmacy in Surrey Hills before enrolling in medicine at the University of Melbourne (M.B., B.S., 1940; M.S., 1947; M.D., 1948). He struggled to finance his courses with part-time work and assistance from his widowed mother. In third year he gained a residential scholarship to Ormond College. He came equal top in his final year. On 10 December 1941 Lindell married Margaret Annie Rolland at the Presbyterian Church, East Malvern. That year he had joined the Royal Melbourne Hospital as a resident medical officer. In 1942 he was made deputy medical superintendent and in the following year medical superintendent.

When the Cain government replaced the Hospitals and Charities Board with the Victorian Hospitals and Charities Commission in 1953, it appointed Lindell as chairman. In this post, which he held for almost twenty years, he became the most influential and respected health administrator in the State, and a leader at national and international levels. Although the system he inherited was soundly based, additional hospitals were sorely needed, especially in the outer metropolitan area, and major institutions in the inner city—among them the Royal Women's, Royal Children's, the Dental, Alfred, Mercy and Austin hospitals—required rebuilding or remodelling. Lindell tackled these tasks with enthusiasm, courage, wisdom and foresight, tempered by a sensitivity that enabled him to establish priorities and to reconcile compelling but often conflicting interests. His term of office saw a ring of general hospitals built on the suburban periphery, aimed at meeting local needs and diverting routine cases from city hospitals. Similar work occurred in rural towns throughout Victoria.

Lindell was concerned to prevent or correct costly duplication of high-technology functions. He concentrated many services in particular hospitals, or shared them between two institutions—radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer, spinal operations, plastic surgery, open-heart surgery, renal transplants, renal dialysis and laboratory functions like cytology and tissue typing. He attempted to develop the concept of regionalization by interrelating institutions in a functional way within a specific locality, and paid particular attention to the needs of the aged and disabled. Further developments saw the establishment by the University of Melbourne of professorial clinical units in major teaching hospitals and the foundation of Victoria's second medical school, at Monash University. His tactful presence facilitated such initiatives.

About 5 ft 10 ins (178 cm) tall and physically strong, with eyes that sparkled with dash and interest, Lindell exuded an air of authority and purpose. He could be firm when necessary, but was conciliatory and prepared to listen to opinions contrary to his own. His humanitarian approach helped to lower the barriers that separated hospitals from society, making them an integral part of the communities they served.

A fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and of the Australian Institute of Hospital Administrators, Lindell also belonged to the Beefsteak and Royal Melbourne Golf clubs. He retired in 1972 and was appointed C.M.G. in 1973. Survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters, he died of cancer on 24 August 1973 at Eaglemont and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • K. S. Inglis, Hospital and Community (Melb, 1958)
  • T. Hewat, The Florey (Syd, 1990)
  • Medical Journal of Australia, 24 Nov 1973, p 984
  • Hospital Journal of Australia, Jan 1973
  • Herald (Melbourne), 2 Feb 1957, 12 Aug 1967
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 23 Nov 1972
  • Age (Melbourne), 27 Aug 1973.

Citation details

Leonard B. Swinden, 'Lindell, John Henry Stockton (1908–1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lindell-john-henry-stockton-10831/text19217, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 14 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2018