UCRH Director congratulated as she prepares to step down

THE Director of the University Centre for Rural Health North Coast, Professor Lesley Barclay AO, has announced she will step down from the position she has held for the past seven years at the end of January 2016.

Professor Barclay, who is regarded as one of Australia's leading clinician-academics, said her final 12 months in the role had been the most satisfying of all, bringing together all the plans she held for The University of Sydney backed organisation.

She said highlight achievements for her included:

  • Consolidating a regional university department of rural health that works closely with the Northern NSW Local Health District to make a real difference in the quality of health care in the Northern Rivers.
  • Collaborating with all tiers of government, industry and health planning bodies such as the North Coast Primary Health Network to deliver up to $10 million worth of capital works projects in Lismore, Murwillumbah and Grafton where UCRH has campuses.
  • Coordinating the clinical placements of university students and longer-term medical student placements, many of whom will return to rural/regional areas after graduation. In total, around 5,000 students across 12 or so health disciplines from over 10 universities.
  • Opening the Nyumbalighu Simulation Centre, which provides hands-on training for students and local health practitioners, and gives high-schoolers considering medical careers a taste of clinical education.
  • Mentoring staff who have undertaken PhD studies in a range of health related fields, mostly with a regional, often an Indigenous, focus. 12 of 40-plus research students she has supervised over the last decade have been appointed associate or full professors in midwifery or maternal child health.
  • Encouraging around 70 local clinicians, in both hospitals and general practice, to assist with the supervised training of students from 12 Australian universities.

Last year, a team headed by Professor Barclay was recognised by the Federal Government for delivering one of Australia's top-ten research projects in 2014.

This team conducted extensive research on birthing practices in rural and remote communities in the Northern Territory's Top End, leading to the rollout of a model of care that delivers significant benefits for Aboriginal mothers and their babies.

The benefits include reduced infant and maternal mortality, increased birth weights and less need for medical interventions in the ante-natal and post-natal periods.

Professor Barclay began her career as a midwife and went on to become an educational leader, health services researcher and systems reformer.

Her many projects have improved maternal child health services in urban and remote Australia and internationally.

Professor Barclay said the past year had been especially rewarding, as she had seen so many of her goals come to fruition.

She will move from the Northern Rivers to Sydney where her career is expected to be as busy as ever.

Page MP Kevin Hogan congratulated Professor Barclay for her dedicated service to the health community in the Northern Rivers, saying that the past year, and those preceding it, had seen the UCRH go from strength to strength, and consolidate its role as a major player in the local health care field.

"I wish Lesley all the very best for the future, and look forward to hearing more about her endeavours, which I'm sure will be as impressive as ever," Mr Hogan said.

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