2000 Sidney Sax Medallist - Dr David Watson

Dr David Watson has shown total commitment to the Australian healthcare system, both at Federal and State levels and in numerous capacities right from the beginning of his medical career.

Since graduating in medicine in 1968 it has been clear that David has always been willing to assist in improving the Australian healthcare system and delivery of hight quality clinical care. In the early 1970s, while employed at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, he promoted nursing and allied health professional education. His interest in improving the education and training of healthcare professionals has continued throughout his career.

David has continued this drive to improve healthcare delivery through his own clinical work while at the same time being involved in organisations such as the Australian Healthcare Association, at both State and National levels; St John of God Hospital, Subiaco and Geraldton; Australian Medical Association, at State and National levels; Hospital Benefit Fund of WA; Medical Defence Association of WA; Quadriplegic Centre Board; Westcare Board; and recently through his appointment to the St John of God Australian Catholic Health Board.

Importantly, David once appointed or elected to a position actively participates and maintains his enthusiasm for a considerable number of years. Unlike many who serve on committees he gives long-term commitment and is not there for short-term gains. Also, he fulfils a senior role within the organisation either as chairman or vice-chairman. This is clearly an indication of the standing he is held by his peers. For example David has contributed 13 years to HBF of WA, four of which as deputy chairman; 13 years on the Medical Defence Association, currently President; 12 years to the Quadriplegic Centre Board, currently deputy chairman; 13 years on the AMA WA State Council during which time he served as president and nine of these years he was a member of the AMA Federal Council; 7 years to AHA, including holding the position of national vice-president; and 18 years to Healthcare Association of WA, including holding the position of vice president.

In addition to his involvement in organisations David has sat on numerous Federal and State Ministerial Committees. His name is usually the first mentioned when looking for someone with a balanced, intelligent and informed view on healthcare matters.

While operating his own very successful private practice he continues his interest in teaching and for the past five years has been a member of the medical teaching unit at St John of God Hospital, Subiaco.

Medical administration has no escaped his interest and for four years he occupied the position of Director of Medical Services at St John of God, Subiaco.

David has always given freely of his time and is held in high regard for his commitment, compassion, patience and understanding. To say the nuns at St John of God Hospital adore him is an understatement.

When looking at his CV one wonders how he finds the time, energy and enthusiasm to undertake his numerous roles. An extremely important aspect that should not be overlooked is that while undertaking these duties David also has a very balanced family life with his wife and two daughters.

But there is more.

Healthcare is not his only interest as sport also plays an important role in his life. From his days as school swimming captain, then 4 years as a swimming coach and more recently as Vice-Patron and Patron of Swan Districts Football Club, a very successful club in the Western Australian league he has shown that there are no half measures if you want to succeed.

Not content purely to be a participant he throws himself wholeheartedly into the fray – often at a high personal cost and a sacrifice to his leisure time. He has an infinite capacity to read, absorb and analyse all documents and then prepare at rapid speed a succinct, astute and reasoned informative report on meetings at the speed of the return flight to Perth.

Renowned as a very skilled physician for compassion, caring and an exemplary bedside manner, David is highly sought after in the medical management of difficult and complex cases eg. chronic fatigue syndrome and involves himself with passion in these cases.

David has over the past 20 years shown his total commitment to the Australian healthcare system through a diversity of roles, organisations and services. It is well recognised that David always puts the good of the service ahead of his personal interests. For a person to be able to balance his healthcare interests, his family life and his sporting interests is clearly a person that should receive full public recognition by being awarded the Sax medal.