A History of Dr Harry Bailey before the Chelmsford Scandal:

A medical graduate from Sydney University, Dr Harry Bailey moved into the psychiatric field in 1952 and during his studies, became interested in organic treatments of mental illness, such as drug therapy and psychosurgery. A charismatic man, he received a World Health Organization scholarship that allowed him to travel overseas for 15 months studying trends in treatments of mental illness. During this trip, he spend time in Canada observing Ewan Cameron who worked with sedation, psychosurgery and electroconvulsive therapy, and was thereby influenced (Garton, 2007).

Following this journey, he managed to be placed as the director of a state-of-the-art neurosurgery unit situated at Callan Park which he convinced the New South Wales government to fund. Only two years later, he was appointed Superintendent of Callan Park, yet two years after, he made public allegations against the institution, claiming mismanagement, theft and mistreatmet of patients was occurring. The New South Wales Labor Government was then forced to hold a Royal Commission in 1961, and Harry Bailey subsequently became well known. His accusations, however, forced him to resign and move into private practice.

He did so at Macquarie Street, and then in 1963 began treating patients at Chelmsford Private Hosptital in Pennant Hills with the assistance of John Herron early on, then Ian Gardiner and John Gill later on. Throughout his time at Chelmsford Hospital, he experimented with Deep Sleep Therapy and Electroconvulsive Shock Therapy, and his high public profile enabled this. 

His reputation emerged from being a member of the Australian Medical Association from 1951, the Australasian Association of Psychiatrists (later known as the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychaitrists) from 1952, the American Electroshock Research Association, and the Pan-Pacitif Surgical Association, as well as being the president of the Sydney Biophysics and Medical Electrocics Society (Garton, 2007)


  1. My mother died in April,1972 at chelmsford hospital. She was only 34 and I was 6. I often wonder how much different my life would have been with a mother had this monster not taken her from me. I remember the night the ambulance turned up to take her. I also remember the scuffle because she didn't want to go. That was the last time I saw her, as i was dragged from her arms as she sobbed that she didn't want to leave her baby. I was an only child. I also remember waking one night, it was the only time I have ever seen my father cry. Harry Bailey was in our loungeroom talking to my father. From what I understand my father was at chelmsford when my mother was due to be woken from her deep sleep, he was in the waiting room where he was told he could see her soon she was having a cup of tea. Then he was told that she had just dropped dead as she drank her tea. They told him a blood vessel in her head had burst. My guess is that she hadn't woken at all or maybe they'd given her electric shock treatment and well and truly fried her brain. Just what you need for depression. I know its been a long time, but I hope at least one nurse or doctor associated with chelmsford reads this and realises the lives they took, the lives they never came forward and said there's something wrong, meant something to someone. They weren't just faceless figures in beds but mothers, fathers and children of people who loved them. They were husbands and wives. You brought on depression in my father, so I didn't just have to deal with losing my mother but I had to deal with my father too. My stepmother revelled in telling me over the phone that my mother didnt just die she was probably murdered , i was about 19. And I had 2 kids that didn't get to know my mother and a mother that never got to love grandchildren. She had been a living ,breathing , beautiful human being. She had beauty inside and out. She should of had 50 or more yearss of life. She has been dead longer than she had been alive. She would have been 77 this year. These are the ramblings of a disgruntled child maybe, but it is also the spreading of my wings to air myself of childhood atrocities so I can set myself free. Oh..... and just so you know.... you never beat me. I have been a strong and independent woman all my adult life. I learnt early...... life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain.

    1. I am wondering why the ambulance took your mother directly to a private hospital and not a public one??

  2. I'm so very sorry to read this story about your mother. A member of my extended family was also one of his victims, but she did not die. I can't believe the horror of this.

  3. Crimes like these still happen in mental facilities all around the country unpunished, unnoticed how bad !