Plan to put research and education at the centre of growth

A/Prof Sanjay Swaminathan, Better Foundation CEO Nermeen Yacoub, BMDH acting general manager Ned Katrib, BMDH Research and Education director Prof Mark McLean, WSLHD Medical Services executive director Emma McCahon, and WSU Foundation Chair of Medicine Prof Annemarie Hennessy.

Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospitals (BMDH) have committed to an ambitious five-year Research Strategic Plan to match record growth in clinical activity and investment in the area’s hospital facilities.

Representatives from Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), Western Sydney University (WSU) School of Medicine and associated organisations gathered on Monday afternoon to officially launch the plan, as well as the WSU-WSLHD Medical Kickstarter Grants for Research at BMDH.

BMDH Research and Education director Prof Mark McLean said the opening of the WSU School of Medicine in 2007 had brought new focus and purpose to Blacktown Hospital as it became a teaching hospital.

“Health research has a very high value to society. It generates new knowledge and, importantly, seeks to translate that knowledge into better delivery of care,” Prof McLean said.

“Development of research at BMDH, alongside our clinical care, will make us better health care providers, better teachers and better members of the health professions.”

Physiotherapist Dona Udugahapathuwa, speech pathologist Patricia Webb, phsyiotherapist Marie March and clinical documentation specialist Milan Vaghasiya display the BMDH Research Strategic Plan (2019-2024).

The plan aims to take BMDH from an emerging to a leading academic hospital by focusing on five key areas: culture, people, funding, information and collaboration.

Collaboration partners including Better Foundation, the dedicated fundraising charity for BMDH, were present for the launch.

Prof McLean said he believed much of the research would be led by allied health – a view shared by clinical physiotherapist Marie March, who is an allied health representative on the WSLHD Research Development Committee.

“Having a really clear structure, strategy and goal is so important to the present and future of research in the health district,” Marie said.

“The population and clinical services at Blacktown in particular is growing out of sight, and research needs to grow with it. It’s good for everyone if research and education are at the top of the agenda because it leads to better health outcomes and better job satisfaction.”

The event also announced that the WSLHD Research and Education Network Medical Kickstarter Grants would be expanding to BMDH, with the support of WSU. Four grants worth up to $10,000 each (a total of $40,000) are to be awarded this year.

WSU Clinical School dean, A/Prof Sanjay Swaminathan, explained that the grants are for junior doctors or new staff specialists, and preference would be shown to clinical and translational research.

“These grants are not focused on track record, they’re focused on funding ideas,” he said.

Applications close 5pm Friday, May 31 – find out more and apply here.