1999 Sidney Sax Medallist - Mr Ron Tindale

The recipient of the 1999 Sax Medal is a person who has made a major contribution to the Australian healthcare system over twenty-five years and is held in high esteem throughout the industry.

Ron Tindale entered the health system in 1971 in the position of financial controller at Canterbury Hospital Sydney. Ron was a qualified accountant and had held positions in a number of commercial enterprises, including Alcoa with whom for a time he was stationed at Nhulumby, Gove, in the Northern Territory.

In 1973 he was appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Lewisham Hospital and became Chief Executive Officer of Canterbury Hospital in 1975. In 1980 he became CEO of the 400-bed Wollongong Hospital, situated some 80km south of Sydney in an expanding industrial centre.

From early times in his career Ron Tindale displayed special commitment to his primary responsibilities and this is reflected in his rapid career progress. He also entered into the professional activities that accompany those destined to make a wider contribution to health management. He undertook further studies and attained a Bachelor of Health Administration from the University of NSW.

In his own health management career Ron moved to the position of Chief Executive Officer of Hornsby and Ku-ring-gay Hospital and Health Services in 1983. This was the flagship organisation in NSW in terms of its piloting of conjoint community health and hospital management and its conduct of the NSW branch of the ACHSE’s highly regarded Management Training Program. Ron Tindale added to the reputation of Hornsby in both these regards. He made great efforts to see expansion of activities and quality services at his place of work.

In 1986Ron was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the newly established Area Health Service based at Hornsby in Sydney. He continued in this role until the amalgamation of this area in 1988 with four other areas formed the larger Northern Sydney Area Health Service. He was appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Director of Operations of this complex organisation that employed some 8,000 staff. In this role Ron again displayed his enormous capacity for hard work, wise decision-making and people skills. His contribution enhanced the progress of the new area.

In 1991 he transferred to Western Sydney Area Health Service in the same role. Closer to his home and in the company of Dr Owen Curteis as Chief Executive Officer, Ron was able to concentrate his efforts in the development of Western Sydney in addition to his professional commitments.

In 1978 Ron joined the NSW Branch of what is now the Australian College of Health Service Executives, and by this time was active in the Australian Hospital Association and the newly formed Australian Council on Healthcare Standards. He soon made a mark in all these bodies with recognition quickly given to his skills, commitment and talents.

Senior executive positions were soon offered to him to enable his contribution to be facilitated. He also became a Fellow of the College.

Ron, as President for two years of the NSW Branch of the College was highly visible, articulate and forthright in his view. He brought credit to the College and advanced many opportunities for the positive development of health management. He became a visiting committee member of the School of Health Services Management of the University of NSW.

As a Federal Councillor Ron gave 9 years service to the College and had been the Honorary Treasurer of the College in that time. His service in this capacity has been excellent. In recent time he has represented the College internationally, being an invited speaker at the 1997 Hong Kong Hospital Authority Convention. His two papers on ‘Leadership’ and ‘Transforming the Practice of Management’ were outstanding. Their rigour, insight and intellectual depth are characteristic of Ron. His is a true professional.

His contribution to the Australian Healthcare Association has been even more commendable. He became one of the architects of the amalgamation of health associations in NSW which resulted in the formation of the Health Services Association of NSW in 1992. This new body was able to progress largely because of the skilled contribution of Ron Tindale from his executive position in the former AHA (NSW Branch).

In 1995 Ron Tindale became Federal President of the AHA and led the organisation through a period of transformation and potential restructure. His capacity and abilities have served the newly titled Australian Healthcare Association in an outstanding fashion.

In 1999 Ron was appointed as a member of the Council of the International Hospital Federation. This is a measure of the esteem in which Ron is held not only in Australia but internationally. In 1981 Ron played a vital role on the Organising Committee for the IHF Conference held in Sydney in that year.

As stated earlier Ron has always had a strong commitment to the quality and performance improvement aspects of the industry. This is reflected in his contribution to the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards over the past two decades as a surveyor initially and then in his role of Councillor and Board Member representing the AHA.

Throughout Australia, Ron has been recognised as a person of integrity, a person committed to improving the system and a person with the knowledge and skills to implement such improvements. His financial background, management know-how and experience coupled with his cool unflappable approach and negotiating skill shave ensured that his council, input and advice has been sought on a myriad of matters by the broad cross section of the Australian Healthcare system.

The unstinting devotion of his time, intellect and energy is a measure of Ron’s dedication and commitment. This has continued over this past twelve months despite his fluctuating health status.

Ron is a person who whilst achieving hight office has not sought a high profile or wanted the overt recognition that goes with such achievements.

He is however, one of the most influential, respected and effective health management professionals in Australia.

He is a most worthy recipient of the AHA Sax Medal.