I am the blogophobe some of you might have read last week. I am the first Ko Awatea Visiting Professor who arrived here a few weeks ago from Cardiff, Wales. It is a great honour and privilege for me to be the first to occupy this Chair, in what undoubtedly will be a long line of more distinguished professors than I.
I am here to learn about this remarkable and innovative concept that Ko Awatea represents, now that it has achieved reality.
I am impressed by the buzz about the place, which is the first thing that struck me. Equally, it is also a privilege to work with so many colleagues at Middlemore who are so evidently devoted to ensuring and improving patient safety, highly committed to delivering high quality healthcare services, and to exploiting to the full innovative thinking, practices and learning from others in the international arena. Not least, I have been met by a great welcome and hospitality from all the people I have met.
I hope that I shall bring some added value to the time I shall be with you. Wales is not that different to New Zealand: we have a smaller population than you by around 1.5 million but have the same number of sheep, we play rugby and now have the best team in the Northern Hemisphere after stunningly beating Ireland, Scotland, England (especially) and France (revengefully!); so watch out All Blacks. Like you we have a big neighbour – though England is a little nearer to us than your neighbour.
Most importantly in regard to my visit here, Wales faces the same sort of challenges to our healthcare services that the Counties Manukau District Health Board has to tackle. So we can share our learning and experiences to work together to deliver health services that will be as good as, or better than, those in comparable systems anywhere else in the world.
A little bit about me: I am chair of Public Health Wales which is a part of NHS Wales that delivers a unified population health service at the local, community and national level. We also are involved in health policy development and strategy in Wales, working closely with Civil Servant colleagues in the Welsh Government, provide national screening services, a national public health observatory and are a health research and development resource working closely with academia. I also have another job as Professor of Public Health Education and Director of the Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research at Cardiff University. In a previous incarnation I was Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientist at the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions in Whitehall. That’s enough about me for the present.
Incidentally, I have also done day one of Tikanga training and I am off with my wife to Pukaki Marae later this week. My apologies if I am not using the right Maori words as yet. I shall soon learn. I shall tell you about my further training in my next blog.