Happy Birthday Ko Awatea

I’m blogging this week from my usual spot in the Ko Awatea atrium, which is appropriate given that I want to celebrate Ko Awatea’s recent first birthday. Professor Jonathon Gray is with me to help reflect on some of the highlights we’ve had since Ko Awatea’s Opening and Colloquium in June last year.

Several years ago, during discussions about the redevelopment of Middlemore Hospital, we realised we were going to lose our training facilities which were then very poor. At the same time, we’d had a series of conferences talking about creating a sustainable future despite the challenges health is facing. This got us to thinking – how were we going to continue investing in our staff while becoming a world class, world-leading organisation?

That was the genesis of Ko Awatea – a Centre which was not just a replacement for poor teaching facilities but also an opportunity to bring together the best ideas internationally with the best people locally to create solutions to the problems we face. The challenge was to build something that was world-leading in the frontline, and nowhere is more deserving of that than South Auckland which remains our first priority.

A year later, we’ve developed unique partnerships with our Joint Venture partners – Auckland University of Technology, the Manukau Institute of Technology and University of Auckland. It’s rare that such collaboration can be truly successful but here at Ko Awatea, it is exceeding expectations. We have met our three-year target for student numbers in year one, with vast groups of students creating a positive energy and buzz throughout the Centre. Indeed for many people, Ko Awatea has become a place to meet, to think and to network over coffee. We have a growing national and international reputation as a space for people of all sorts to think and to learn. Ko Awatea has helped bring people from across the spectrum together.

There are many examples of this in action. We’ve just come from a meeting with David Stevenson and Jocelyn Moore, trustees of the Stevenson Foundation which has generously given us a great deal of sponsorship money, particularly around the Chair of Health Innovation and Improvement. Through Ko Awatea, we have strong ties with our Boston partners, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. We have links with The New Zealand Centre for Social Innovation which uses the Centre for its Social Entrepreneur School.  We are also a recognised Centre for Simulation, thanks to the work of Doug Barclay and CTEC, and last weekend hosted the New Zealand Association of Simulation in Healthcare with Carl Horsley. We’re also currently hosting a representative from Kaiser Permanente, one of the world’s leading healthcare organisations, who’s interested in working with us into the future.

Such collaboration is producing innovative and exciting work, and you will see visible results, be it an increase in the number of days people can spend in the community rather than in hospital, a reduction in harm in healthcare or better skills for you and your colleagues.  We’ve developed our 20,000 Days campaign to return 20,000 days back to our community and we’re leading the Workforce Development Pipeline to develop our workforce of the future. As you may have read in my last blog, this is having a real impact, especially at Tangaroa College where the introduction of a Health Science Academy has more than quadrupled the number of students taking general science in Year 12.  We’re also supporting change on a national scale with Ko Awatea staff managing a project across New Zealand’s district health boards to eradicate Central Line Associated Bacteraemia. 

Ko Awatea has also enabled us to offer more training and development opportunities for staff. We had 150,000 room bookings in year one and have nearly 300,000 scheduled for year two. Clearly this facility has made possible staff development opportunities we previously did not have room for. We’re already thinking about building an extension to Ko Awatea for orthopaedic teaching facilities, such is the demand.

Ko Awatea has helped us build a huge will for change which has generated international interest. This will be reflected in September’s APAC Conference, to be hosted at Sky City and Ko Awatea. As I’ve already mentioned, APAC will attract some of the best in healthcare internationally, including Dr Don Berwick and Maureen Bisognano who have both chosen to come and spend time with us to learn about our successes. Sky City is anticipating 1200 conference attendees, making it one of the largest healthcare improvement conferences in the world.

Beyond APAC, we want to continue building on our success. Among the initiatives planned, we’re developing a Leadership Academy to create the next generation of clinical leaders, and building a Think Tank which can continue driving leading-edge work in Counties Manukau. We’re also looking at putting measures around our vision to be the best healthcare provider in Australasia by 2015 so that we can clearly demonstrate our progress towards this goal year on year.

Of course none of this would have been possible without the support of you, our staff, who’ve contributed to these magnificent achievements over the past 12 months. Part of my role as CEO is to create opportunities and provide an environment where people want to take them. That’s what Ko Awatea is all about. As ever, I’m incredibly proud of, but not at all surprised by, how much people have taken these opportunities onboard. If we can achieve this in a year, imagine what we can achieve in two.

Geraint and Jonathon


Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

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