1881 - 1950
For some time, surgery of this type was carried out by one surgeon, or a group of surgeons. The current separation of eye surgery from ear, nose and throat surgery is a relatively recent development. These surgeons were generally designated "ophthalmic surgeons". Hospital Board Minutes dated 30/3/1892 record that the ophthalmic surgeon was "also to do ENT".
As early as 1886, an Honorary Ophthalmic Surgeon, Dr W G Kemp, was appointed, this being the first 'specialist' appointment. In 1890, Dr Kemp was succeeded by Dr F Wallace McKenzie who remained in that role until 1902. Dr H W Martindale Kendall filled the role from 1902 - 1910, though in in 1906, Dr McKenzie covered while Dr Kendall went on leave to the UK for 6 months.
Plans for a designated Ophthalmic Ward were approved in 1910, but construction did not proceed. In 1911, it was proposed that a small space used as an anaesthetic room adjacent to the operating theatre be "made suitable" for the use of the Ophthalmic Surgeon.
By 1912, there were two Honorary Ophthalmic Surgeons, Drs Harty and Webster, and by 1914, there were three - Dr Marchant joined the team.
In 1914, the ophthalmic surgeons proposed that special wards for eye, ear, nose and throat patients be constructed, but the proposal was held over as there was insufficient accommodation for the extra nurses that would be required. The proposals were further held up by the impact of WW1 on hospital services, and these patients were temporarily housed in the unused upper floor of the Children's Hospital. In 1916, firm plans were made to build an extra ward over Ward 4, and to develop a specialist EENT Department over the corridor linking the southern ends of Wards 3 and 4. Consent for proceeding was finally granted by the Health Minister in 1919, and Ward 7 and the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Department opened in 1920. This was the first specialist department in the Hospital.
The EENT Department comprised a small male and female ward, each with a verandah, two single-bed wards, an operating theatre and a sterilising room. In all, there was accommodation for 24 patients. Access to the Department was via Ward 7, or by steps leading from the courtyard between Wards 3 and 4. This remained the site of the EENT Department until the 1970s.
With Dr Harty's retirement in 1922, Dr L D Cohen joined the team. He specialised in eye surgery, but it is interesting to note that his obituary refers to the fact that "he made his own bronchoscopes in his workshop at home". Dr J A Doctor joined the staff in 1925, and with Dr Webster's retirement in 1926,
Dr W H Simpson was appointed. Dr Walter Hope-Robertson joined the staff in 1928, and although he held both diplomas - DOMS (Diploma of Ophthalmic Medicine and Surgery) and DLO (Diploma of Laryngology and Otology) - his training was virtually pure ophthalmology, and with his arrival, a gradual separation of the two sub-specialities began. In 1932, advertisements for honorary staff for the Eye, Ear Nose and Throat Department, included the wording: "applicants for senior EENT to do both; applicants for assistant EENT can apply to do either." Nevertheless, the two 'camps' shared the same facilities for many years. Drs J B Baird and J H Beaumont were on the staff briefly in the 1930s, and Dr R A Elliott was appointed in 1938. Robert Elliott was a dedicated ENT surgeon.
In the 1940s, as with all of the Hospital's activities, there was service disruption. Drs Marchant and Doctor came out of retirement to cover those on active service. Dr W J MacDonald was appointed in the 1940s, and was the first to have the designation "Otologist". Dr J Leonard Dimond was appointed in the late 1940s as an Otologist and Dr Violet MacFarlane joined the staff in 1949, but left to go to Christchurch in 1952 - she was the first female ophthalmic surgeon in NZ.