NSLHD News 26 February 2024


Main story Welcoming New Graduates to NSLHD’s Graduate Health Management Program Four outstanding individuals have joined NSLHD. Page 3 Short blurb Read more on Page x

NSLHD’s Sally Duncan Joins NSW Health AI Task Force Page 7

Strong research pipeline flags positive trend Page 6


Message from the Acting board chair

Mary Chiarella AM

Dear colleagues,

Under amendments made to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, directors and senior leaders have a positive duty that requires us to take reasonable and proportionate measures to prevent sex discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile environments, and victimisation in the workplace. At NSLHD, we’ve undertaken substantial measures to address workplace challenges and concerns raised in the People Matter Employee Survey. We are also reviewing existing measures and prioritising actions to strengthen controls and responses to harassment. It is critical that we create a workplace that is free from any form of inappropriate or unprofessional behaviours, including harassment, bullying, discrimination, and intimidation. Thank you for all the work that you are doing providing high-quality care to our patients and communities.

As we commence a new year, I extend a warm welcome to our nursing and midwifery graduates embarking on a wonderful career in healthcare. I wish you as fulfilling and rewarding an experience as my career in nursing and midwifery has been. There are 255 graduate nurses and midwives starting their career at our district, and these are some of the 3400 graduate nurses and midwives set to contribute to healthcare across metro and regional NSW public hospitals this year, providing a significant boost to health services. As a nurse for more than 40 years and a midwife for almost as many, it gives me great pleasure to see so many people wanting to take up a profession that brings me so much joy. Celebrating our recent achievements, I am delighted to announce the graduation of our first NSLHD Applied Safety and Quality Program cohort on January 30. It was a privilege to attend their ceremony, witnessing the culmination of their hard work and dedication. The ADEPT graduates completed a 12-month program and will be followed by a second group of healthcare professionals whom I know will make an equally important contribution in ensuring the patient and staff experiences in safety and quality are optimal. Chief Executive Anthony Schembri and I have just released a statement to all staff about preventing harassment in the workplace. Our district prioritises a positive work environment in line with our NSW Health Code of Conduct and CORE values— Collaboration, Openness, Respect, and Empowerment.

Mary Chiarella AM Acting Board Chair

Northern Sydney Local Health District



Welcoming New Graduates to NSLHD’s Graduate Health Management Program

Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD) proudly introduces the newest members of its distinguished Graduate Health Management Program: Lauren Nowacka, Genevieve Baird, Kedar Gu, and Eamon O’Callaghan. This program, spanning two years, is designed to nurture the future leaders of healthcare within NSLHD and the broader NSW Health system. The graduates will work across NSLHD facilities and services and gain experience by working on projects and a range of different initiatives through rotations. “I’m thoroughly enjoying the program so far and it has completely exceeded my expectations. I’m learning new things every day and every experience has been so impactful,” said Lauren Nowacka. A distinctive feature of the program is its emphasis on academic excellence. Lauren, Genevieve, and Kedar will undertake a

fully funded Master of Health Service Management, solidifying their theoretical foundations. Concurrently, Eamon, specialising in the Finance stream, will pursue the Certified Practising Accounting (CPA) Program to deepen his expertise in financial management. In addition to welcoming the new recruits, NSLHD takes pride in acknowledging the successful completion of the program by Abby Kalac, Kimberly Attenborough, and Peter Sutherland. Their dedication and hard work over the past couple of years have positioned them as accomplished healthcare executives. “It is wonderful working for a district that is so committed to ensuring we are a fostering the next generations of healthcare executives,” said Anthony Schembri, Chief Executive, NSLHD.

NSLHD Graduate Health Management Program graduates Kedar Gu, Eamon O’Callaghan, Genevieve Baird and Lauren Nowacka with Chief Executive Anthony Schembri (middle)



Life saving gift to increase access to the world’s best cancer care

The first steps towards a globally-recognised cancer clinical trials and research centre on the RNSH campus were taken this week, with national and international experts coming together to discuss the establishment of the new facility. It has been made possible by a $20 million donation from Kay Van Norton Poche and her husband Greg. They have also donated a further $20 million to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, who will partner with RNSH to increase the impact of the centre. Chief Exeuctive Anthony Schembri addressed the foundational event, saying the district was tremendously grateful for the transformative gift. “It is the largest donation we have ever received at northern Sydney,” he said. “It means we have a unique opportunity to accelerate the clinical trial process, to increase access and to improve the lives of those living with cancer.” The centre is set to be located within Royal North

to improvements in care across a whole range of health challenges such as heart and kidney disease, musculoskeletal issues and chronic pain.” NSLHD Chair of Research Professor Bruce Robinson said the key aim is to increase participation in clinical trials and access to the very latest care. “We know that despite an $80 billion investment in cancer research and development globally, only five per cent of patients with cancer take part in a clinical trial,” he said. “We must lift those numbers if we want to significantly improve health outcomes and eradicate cancer as a major cause of death. “It is a very exciting time for us, for clinicians and researchers at northern Sydney and beyond, and we are establishing working groups as part of our next steps. “If you would like to be involved in a working group or would like to submit your ideas about the new centre, please email NSLHD- MyResearchHub@health.nsw.gov.au.”

Shore and North Shore Private hospitals, and will recruit patients from metropolitan, rural and indigenous communities. Anthony said the district’s focus on cancer clinical trials will be part of our vision to strengthen our clinical trial and research expertise across NSLHD. “We hope this wonderful gift from Kay Van Norton Poche and Greg Poche will encourage other donors to contribute to our broader research and clinical trial activities, which are leading

Dr Robert Herkes, Prof Tracey O’Brien, Prof Bruce Robinson, Prof Bruce Neal, Prof Stephen Clarke and Prof Peter Leedman



Husband and wife serve RNSH for close to 40 years After coming to Australia as an Afghani refugee, Naser Razi has spent the past 36 years working at Royal North Shore Hospital alongside his wife Afifi. Starting in the spinal unit, Naser moved to aged care where he served as a driver and technical assistant for two decades. Meanwhile his wife has worked at the RNSH childcare centre for the past 31 years. Having left an incredible legacy on the patients and his colleagues, Naser is retiring, looking forward to spending time in his garden and writing. “I loved working with a team of highly skilled, highly qualified, professionals across both spinal unit, aged care and others,” “It made the working days more engaging and fulfilling. Along the way, there have been specific moments of achievement like moving to a better position or skilling up, but overall, the standout is the great people we have worked with.” Naser was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and studied political science and law at Tehran University before war broke out between Iran and Iraq. He and his wife Afifa fled to Australia, where they started their family. When he hasn’t been at work, Naser is a respected elder in the Afghani community in Sydney. He writes a fortnightly column for a US-based Afghani paper. RNSH geriatrician Dr Sue Ogle said Naser and Afifa had provided an amazing service to the hospital. “We wish you a happy retirement. We know you’ll be busy writing articles and working in your garden. Thank you again for being part of the aged care team.”

Naser and Afifa Razi

SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS Share your news and achievements. Contact the Media and Communications team on 9463 1722 or email NSLHD-media@health.nsw.gov.au to submit your news.



Dr Carina Blaker

Strong research pipeline flags positive trend With an increasing focus on our research activity, the Royal North Shore Hospital Scientific Staff Council is keen to celebrate the efforts of some of the hospital’s emerging leaders. It has presented four awards recognising an outstanding commitment to research excellence. Kolling Institute musculoskeletal researchers Dylan Ashton and Dr Carina Blaker were joint winners of the best publication award for their paper which identified a broader range of possible tendon grafts for knee injuries. Carina also took out the outstanding early to mid-career researcher award in the basic science category, while fellow Kolling researcher A/Professor Rebecca Kozor clinched the outstanding clinical researcher award for her work using high resolution imaging to help diagnose and treat heart disease. Dr Katherine Bates received the outstanding research student award for her work on the identification of new biomarkers and risk factors for heart disease. Chair of the Scientific Staff Council Dr Sumit Sahni said he was pleased to be able to present the awards to this impressive group. “A huge amount of important work goes on behind the scenes,” he said. “Many of our researchers are quietly making crucial progress with their research, and it’s wonderful to be able to recognise their remarkable efforts extending our understanding of particular conditions and lifting the standard of care we all receive. “The quality of nominations we received was particularly high, making the decisions difficult and highlighting the expertise we have on the Royal North Shore Hospital campus.” Carina welcomed the announcement. “I was really honoured to receive the award recognising our research and I’m very grateful to the Scientific Staff Council for their ongoing support,” she said. “Our research is aimed at broadening our understanding of different tissues so that we can personalise treatment options. “We are increasingly seeing that a tailored approach will deliver a better individual fit and a better outcome for patients. “I hope this award helps to draw attention to the steady progress we’re making in this field. “We’re seeing an increasing number of knee injuries in Australia, with many the result of a sporting injury, so it’s important that clinicians are able to offer the very latest evidenced-based treatments for each patient.”



NSLHD’s Sally Duncan Joins NSW Health AI TaskForce NSW Health has formed a new taskforce to guide the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the public health system. The taskforce will play an important role in overseeing the creation of an AI Framework to ensure safe and successful use of AI. This groundbreaking taskforce, comprising 25 members, will include Sally Duncan, Chief Nursing and Midwifery Information Officer at Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD). A nursing veteran since 1979, Sally brings a wealth of experience to the taskforce, overseeing

digital health services and ensuring nursing and midwifery perspectives are integral to digital health initiatives. “I am looking forward to ensuring a lens on safety, ethics, privacy, research, workforce development, and meaningful consumer engagement. By implementing AI within a framework that covers all these aspects, we can enhance healthcare delivery, provide time back to our clinicians to focus on care delivery and further improve patient well-being,” she said. An active participant in AI discourse, Sally co-presented a draft AI position statement at the AIDH (Australasian Institute of Digital Health) AI conference in November 2023. “The biggest challenge is to balance the requirement for good governance (ensuring safety, ethics, privacy, research, workforce development, and meaningful consumer engagement) in developing AI within healthcare without stifling AI innovation.” Sally’s appointment underscores the importance of integrating healthcare expertise into AI initiatives, ensuring a well-rounded and patient-centric approach to the future of public health. stay up to date with Nslhd on social media

Sally Duncan

Hornsby Hospital Mona Vale HOSPITAL nslhd mhda


Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice at Manly

nthsydhealth ayahmanly





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