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05 Jun 2015

Former AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton was last night awarded the AMA Gold Medal, the Association's highest honour, in recognition of his outstanding and tireless service to the medical profession and the community.

Presenting the Medal at the AMA National Conference Gala Dinner, AMA President Associate Professor Brian Owler said Dr Hambleton, had been a very prominent and active member of the health community and a dedicated member of the Australian Medical Association for more than 25 years.

“For more than a quarter of a century Dr Hambleton has been an extraordinarily active and committed member of the AMA, advancing the interests of members and patients at almost every level of the organisation,” A/Prof Owler said.

Dr Hambleton was President of AMA Queensland in 2005-06 and has served on the AMA Council of General Practice at a State and Federal level for more than 15 years. He was the AMA representative on the National Immunisation Committee from 2006 to 2010, has been a member of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, served on the Clinical Care Standards Advisory Committee of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care and was acting CEO of AMA Queensland in late 2007.

He was elected AMA Federal President in 2011 following two years as Federal Vice President, and was national leader until last year.

A/Prof Owler said his immediate predecessor had achieved much in his term as Federal AMA President, including leading the successful “Scrap the Cap” campaign on tax deductions for education expenses; helping reinvigorate the National Immunisation Program; pushing the need for long-term medical workforce planning; and advocating on behalf of salaried doctors in the Queensland salaried medical officers dispute.

“During his Presidency, and as a result of his personal advocacy, the AMA undertook a major reform of its governance structure, changing its constitution to establish a Board to oversee its operations, leaving Federal Council to develop policy, undertake advocacy and pursue change,” A/Prof Owler said.

In 2011, Dr Hambleton – who was a member of the Government Red Tape Taskforce - led the AMA in conducting a survey of GPs from across Australia regarding how Government red tape affected their practices and detracted from time spent with patients.

In the same year, Dr Hambleton also managed the AMA's response to the Professional Services Review, advocating for a system based on peer review scheme. This included encouraging better legal support for practitioners called to undertake reviews of colleagues, insisting that doctors under review were afforded natural justice, and ensuring that every doctor practicing medicine and billing Medicare did so in the knowledge that a fair and just system was in place to handle complaints of inappropriate practice.

A/Prof Owler said the high regard in which Dr Hambleton is held was attested to when the incoming Abbott Government asked him to serve – while still AMA President - as part of a three–member panel to review the faltering Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) system.

“Dr Hambleton was adept at balancing the demands of his role in the review with his position as head of an organisation with a major stake in achieving a much-improved e-health records system,” A/Prof Owler said.

Dr Hambleton has always been a passionate advocate for Indigenous health. He joined the AMA Taskforce on Indigenous Health in 2005 and was Chair from 2009 to 2014.

Dr Hambleton has also served on many other AMA committees, as both a member and Chair, including the Council of General Practice; the Council of Doctors in Training, the Therapeutics Committee; the Audit Committee; and the Economics and Workforce Committee.

A/Prof Owler said that since leaving the AMA Presidency in 2014 Dr Hambleton has continued to be an influential figure, regularly sought out by the Government of the day to provide advice and leadership in key areas, including e-health and rural health.

In July last year, Dr Hambleton was appointed the Chair of the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) in recognition of his clinical expertise and leadership he brought to the role, and last December Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash appointed him to a panel to advise the Federal Government on incentives for doctors to work in rural and remote areas as part of the Government's program of reforms to the rural health workforce.

Most recently, he was appointed by the Federal Government just before the Budget to lead a Primary Health Care Advisory Group to investigate options to provide better care for people with complex and chronic illness; innovative care and funding models; better recognition and treatment of mental health conditions; and greater connection between primary health care and hospital care.

A/Prof Owler said Dr Hambleton had consistently provided exceptional leadership and dedication to the Association over many years, most notably during a difficult period in 2013 when he effectively acted as Executive President in the absence of a Secretary General to manage the organisation.

“Dr Hambleton is a most deserving recipient of the AMA Gold Medal,” A/Prof Owler said.

 


30 May 2015

 

CONTACT:        John Flannery                     02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761

                       Odette Visser                      02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

 

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Published: 05 Jun 2015