The first hospital in Pretoria, capital of the "Zuid-Afrikaanse Republiek", was in an old house near the military barracks in Potgieter Street. The foundation stone of a new ‘Volkshospital’ was laid by President S J P Kruger on 21 June 1890 and made provision for 130 beds. Despite expansions, this hospital became too small for the growing population of the city in the early part of the new century. The flu epidemic of 1918 underlined this inadequacy. The hospital also became dilapidated and had to be replaced.
The foundation of the existing hospital in Pretoria was laid on 22 April 1927. Patients and personnel occupied the hospital on 14 March 1932, with the first Superintendent being Dr L S Robertson. Originally named Pretoria General Hospital, it was renamed H F Verwoerd Hospital in 1967, in 1997 changed to Pretoria Academic Hospital and in 2008 the name was finally changed to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital
A Faculty of Medicine was established in 1943. The faculty and the hospital formed an academic institution. Towards the end of the Second World War it was the third academic health establishment in South Africa and only the sixth in Africa. This academic institution grew over the years to include other facilities such as the Maternity Hospital, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital and the Orthopaedic Hospital.