Today I announce my intention to retire from politics.
I have been honoured to serve the people of NSW as Health Minister since April 2011. During the last six years, I have led significant reforms within the NSW health system – from culture and management to hospital performance and infrastructure, finances and governance, innovation and medical research. Most importantly, I have always believed in putting the patient first in everything we do.
I am very proud of the work that our clinicians, the staff in the NSW Ministry of Health and the local health districts have accomplished during my time as minister.
Together, we have devolved responsibility from the old centralised departmental model to a local health district approach that gives clinicians and local boards more say in the day-to-day management of hospitals and health services.
We have reformed the culture within health to improve trust between clinicians and management, to reduce endemic bullying and to increase respect, openness, collaboration and empowerment. We have rolled out new financial systems following the implementation of activity based funding. We can now see, with fine granularity, all the component costs within a hospital.
Our ICT systems are undergoing a generational upgrade to bring them into the modern world, which will make the patient journey safer. We have also delivered on-budget financial results every single year, something the previous Labor government hardly ever managed to do.
We have massively improved hospital performance, both in timeliness of elective surgery and emergency department treatment. We have achieved this increase in performance despite substantial increases in the number of patients being seen by our dedicated doctors and nurses.
We have increased the number of nursing, medical and support staff in the system by record numbers.
We have built, and are still building, new and upgraded hospitals, health services and ambulance stations across the state – more than $10 billion worth in two terms. I am particularly thrilled by our achievements in tackling HIV – and the first signs that we are seeing real reductions in infections.
Our work in improving organ donation rates has benefitted many lives. Our new palliative care programs have provided better options for patients who wish to die at home. Improved pain management programs have also eased the torment for many who are suffering from constant and unrelieved pain.
Medical research has always been my passion. My admiration for the magnificent minds who toil in our medical research institutes has increased immeasurably. It has been truly gratifying that we have been able to reform research governance and increase funding for the valuable work our talented researchers and inventors do. It was my goal to see NSW lead the nation in medical research and medical devices – and we do.
It has been my great privilege to represent the people of North Shore in the NSW Parliament since 1994. I have dedicated most of the years since 1995, when I was first appointed Shadow Minister for Health, to improving the health services that we all need and rely upon.
I am naturally sad to be leaving the portfolio I love. However, a new chapter beckons and I am looking forward to the challenges of life outside politics. I admire Gladys enormously. She has always been a close friend whom I have been proud to mentor for many years. She has my absolute support and best wishes for a very successful Premiership.