2023 NSW Health Awards honour innovation and community engagement

Thursday, 26 October, 2023

2023 NSW Health Awards honour innovation and community engagement

A housing initiative for Indigenous people; the first public mental health unit in NSW to offer parent–baby admissions; breakthrough research in liver transplantation; and a multidisciplinary concussion service are among the projects honoured in this year’s NSW Health Awards.

The 2023 list of Team Award categories included the Environmental Sustainability Award, Excellence in Aboriginal Healthcare, Excellence in the Provision of Mental Health Services, Health Research and Transforming Patient Experience, among others. Individual awards were given for Staff Member of the Year and Volunteer of the Year.

Following is a sampling of award highlights.

Environmental Sustainability Award

The Environmental Sustainability Award went to Hunter New England Local Health District for its project ‘Sustainable Healthcare Together Towards Zero 2023’. With health care responsible for 7% of Australia’s CO2 emissions, HNE Health devised a strategy to achieve carbon and waste neutrality by 2030 — reportedly a first for any health service in Australia. So far, it has achieved a 24% reduction in CO2 emissions, the capture and recycling of 29% of all rainwater that lands on a Hunter New England roof, reduction of water usage by 23% and the diversion of 14% of general waste from landfill.

Excellence in Aboriginal Healthcare

The South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) was recognised for its Aboriginal Health Escalated Housing Pathway, established with the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) Housing Team. Approximately 18% of Aboriginal people residing in SWSLHD live in social housing, and many of these tenants have complex health needs that are impacted by their living conditions.

The pathway presents a coordinated approach for supporting clients whose social housing issues are making their health, safety or social and emotional wellbeing worse. So far, it has enabled more than 100 clients with complex needs to have their housing issue resolved.

Excellence in the Provision of Mental Health Services

This award went to Naamuru, a purpose-built mental health unit at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. Naamuru was established in June 2022 after an extensive period of co-design with people with lived experience, the local Aboriginal community and the complex network of health professionals delivering perinatal care.

It is the first public mental health unit in NSW that offers parent–baby admissions for parents experiencing acute mental health illness during the perinatal period (before, during and after birth). It is also claimed to be the first in the world to offer non-gender-specific care and treatment.

Health Research

Health Research award-winner Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA) Transplant Institute was honoured for its work to improve the success of liver transplantation for patients with end-stage liver disease and liver tumours through an innovative liver perfusion system.

The success of established liver transplantation treatments is limited by the availability of safe and usable liver grafts. Currently, about 50% of liver graft offers are not used in NSW due to concerns of poor quality. RPA’s system provides a model for facilitating recovery of critically injured donor livers unsuitable for transplantation; it also enables the introduction of new therapeutic agents such as gene therapy, stem-cell therapy, pharmacotherapy and organ/tissue engineering.

Patient Safety First

Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH) won an award in this category for its groundbreaking multidisciplinary concussion service, which works with the community to provide vital education about concussion, including an educational video that has been adopted for use by the NSW Education Department and New Zealand schools.

It also runs a specialised multidisciplinary clinic to help patients with post-concussion symptoms return safely to school, study, work and sport.

Transforming Patient Experience

This award went to BreastScreen NSW Greater Southern for its Remote Mobile Assessment Services, which have introduced 3D imaging equipment to the existing infrastructure of mobile screening vans. A first in NSW, the program enables access for women to undergo further tests while the van is in their local community. Before its establishment, women had to travel up to 7 hours return to access these facilities.

Individual awards

Professor Josephine Chow of South Western Sydney Local Health District won Staff Member of the Year for her leadership and wide-ranging work in nursing and consumer advocacy, as well as her innovative response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteer of the Year Syd Dudley (Murrumbidgee Local Health District) was recognised for his decades-long work across many voluntary and health advocacy roles in the Finley community.

A full list of award categories and winners can be found on the NSW health website.

Image credit: iStock.com/Dimitris66

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