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14 May 2018

Nominating for the position of AMA President

As a consultant physician specialising in immunology and allergy, I divide my time between a fractional staff specialist role at Campbelltown and Camden Hospitals, and my private specialist practice at Narellan NSW.

In addition, I run an immunology and allergy clinic at the Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service in Campbelltown. I also serve as the Executive Clinical Director of Campbelltown and Camden Hospitals.

I have extensive experience in the university, public hospital, and Medical College sectors, and have been a board member of the Southwest Sydney LHD since its establishment. I have been involved in the teaching and training of thousands of medical students and young doctors.

Fourteen years ago, I realised the importance of ‘being a part of the conversation’.

The Campbelltown and Camden crisis was a lightning rod, and a significant reminder that doctors need to be at the centre of healthcare decisions.

If we fail to be present, and if we allow non-medical professionals to have absolute control over hospitals, patients, and our healthcare system, then we must accept the consequences.

Many factors led to the crisis and looking back we need to heed the conditions that contributed to that situation – there was explosive population growth, a dearth of health funding and resources, and a complete lack of Government support.

When our hospital was accused of poor standards of care and a litany of other failings in the early 2000s, the State Government and the media at the time were only too keen to scapegoat the clinicians in order to deflect from the chronic neglect the whole of the south-west of Sydney had suffered from successive governments and the bureaucracy.

People’s careers were in tatters, and those of us demanding due and fair process were subject to serious intimidation.

It was only with the unwavering support of the AMA that I was able to lead the clinicians to stand up to what amounted to the tyranny of the government at the time.

Out of the mess, and really against the odds, we now have the biggest hospital in NSW at Liverpool, a $632 million upgrade occurring at Campbelltown to grow to a 900-bed facility over the next 10 years, and a very successful medical school at Western Sydney University in its 11th year, producing very fine medical graduates.

This episode taught me the value of the AMA, as well as the importance of standing together as a medical profession to advocate on behalf of doctors, patients and a better healthcare system. It led me to join the Council of AMA (NSW), where I have held numerous positions – most recently serving as President.

The lack of imagination and vision in health policy on both sides of politics should be of great concern to all of us.

The AMA can elevate the debate and promote a vision for health and exert great influence at the next Federal election. At times like these, it is the duty of the AMA to step up and demand more imagination and focus on health from politicians who would prefer to coast along with conditions just tolerable enough so that few complain loudly. We owe it to our members and patients to speak up, because if we don’t no one else will.

In the next AMA Federal Election, I will be running on a ticket with Dr Jill Tomlinson from Victoria for Vice-President. Jill and I will work extremely effectively as a team. Jill will bring a range of skills to the position across a range of issues. She has been a strident voice against harassment, a great supporter of junior doctors, and has great knowledge of the application of digital technology.

I believe that together we can provide a strong voice for the AMA.

* See other candidate profiles under INFORMATION tab on this AusMed site.  



Published: 14 May 2018