1997 Sidney Sax Medallist - Dr Owen Curteis

Owen Curteis graduated in Medicine from the University of Sydney in 1960 and received his Graduate Diploma in Health Administration from the University of New South Wales in 1973.

He undertook his residency and registrar training at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital in North Sydney and the Repatriation General Hospital at Concord.

In all he spent some 25 years at Concord, 15 of those as Chief Executive Officer.

He was then appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Western Sydney Area Health Service.

In 1996 Owen took the extraordinary step of reentering clinical medicine. The magnitude of this change and challenge can only be fully appreciated by his medical colleagues; suffice to say that few would have entertained the idea, but it is a measure of the intellectual capacity and commitment of this man that he is now the senior medical officer for the Brisbane Waters Private Hospital.

Owen is an active member of both the Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators and the Australian College of Health Service Executives.

He was Chairman of the New South Wales Branch of RACMA in 1982 83 and has been a member of the Federal Council of that College since 1988.

He has been a surveyor for the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards since 1976 and I doubt any surveyor in the Council's history has surveyed more hospitals. He is also a member of the Board of ACHS, representing the Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators.

Owen has encompassed an enormous range of extracurricular activities including an executive member and Treasurer of the Postgraduate Medical Council, member of the Minister's Health Advisory Council, member of the Board of the Ambulance Service of NSW and a director of various health credit unions.

He has been a stalwart supporter of the Health Services Association of New South Wales and the AHA, being President of the New South Wales Branch of AHA from 1988 1990 and President of the Health Services Association of New South Wales in 1996 and 1997.

Owen Curteis enjoys enormous respect and regard throughout the entire health system across Australia. Of particular significance is the fact that this regard and respect encompasses virtually every professional discipline within the health system; medical, nursing, administration, allied health and the other professional health disciplines throughout our industry.

He has a recognition amongst all his peers as a very "honest broker", a person who can be relied upon to comment openly and frankly on issues affecting the health system, without fear or favour.

Apart from his outstanding intellect and understanding of the health system, his unreserved sincerity and integrity encompasses everything he does and everyone with whom he comes into contact. People at all levels relate and respond to him accordingly.

His compassion and understanding of human emotions and frailties make him a close confidante and colleague of an incredibly wide range of his peers, friends and associates in the health system. Despite all this, he is not an individual who seeks out positional status, image of personal or formal recognition; indeed he is a person who works very much behind the scenes to encourage others to assume senior and public roles, advise and influence their thinking and provide them with the confidence and the expertise to undertake these roles.

His expertise, knowledge, understanding and experience has been sought after and used extensively by Health Departments at both State and Commonwealth level, various medical colleges, hospital industry associations, accreditation bodies, academic and postgraduate medical councils and many others.

His commitment to developing continuous improvement and quality throughout the health system and indeed sharing this experience and expertise is reflected in his commitment to the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards accreditation process.

Whenever and wherever health managers and professionals gather throughout Australia, it would be unusual for the name Owen Curteis not to be raised in one form or another.