2004 Sidney Sax Medallist - Professor Helen Lapsley

Helen has made an outstanding contribution to health services policy, organisation, delivery and research in this nation. Her achievements in, and contribution to, the development and improvement of the Australian healthcare system have been outstanding. She has published extensively on health policy.


Through her lifetime commitment to the health system, and related services, she has achieved national and international recognition.


First and foremost, Helen is a health economist. As such, she has had substantial influence in health policy development in Australia. She has a considerable intellect and has gained profound professional standing.


The traditional role of a good university academic requires a capacity to be skilled in the three areas of teaching, research and services. Helen, in her long academic career mainly, at the University of New South Wales in the School of Health Services Management, has been and continues to be an outstanding achiever across all three aspects.


Teaching has been conducted in a variety of multi-level programs. Many of her former students in health service administration and management are currently employed throughout health services in Australia. She currently holds positions at Queensland and Hong Kong Universities.


As her curriculum vitae below reveals, there is a substantial national and international research and scholarship performance, including an international track record in tobacco health research. Her work as a health economist has led to a number of consultancies with international agencies, including the World Bank, World Health Organisation, the International Red Cross and AUSAID.


In terms of the third arm of the academic role - ‘service’ - Helen has complemented her formal academic work by contributing to the Australian healthcare system in a wide variety of other roles with numerous health and health-related organisations at both the state and national level. These roles have included a whole range of board roles, including the NSW Medical Board, as well as editorial roles on key academic journals. All these roles have involved a high level of personal commitment in a very busy and active career.


She has also been a dedicated contributor to academic journals: For example, the Australian Health Review, Australian Casemix Bulletin, Journal of Health Administration Education and Australian Studies in Health Service Administration.


This outstanding contribution to the improvement of the Australian healthcare system is underpinned by her ability to instil the complexities and debates on contemporary health issues and to facilitate outcomes through the direct application of friendly critique.


In summary Helen Lapsley has:

1. A long-standing and current voluntary contribution to a very wide range of organisations.

2. Current academic roles in Hong Kong and Queensland University and a lengthy career at the University of New South Wales.

3. Substantial contributions in research and teaching to medical and health professionals in health economics and related subjects, including over 60 publications.

4. An international reputation in health economics, including many consultancies.

5. An extraordinary variety of complex organisational and leadership commitments in health bodies.

6. A capacity to clarify changing complex health issues, using a facilitative style, such as with the National Health Summits of 2003 and 2004.

7. A high level of critical inquiry skills that ease pathways and solutions, for example in the NSW Medical Board.

8. A unique capacity to link the academic with the experiential and to apply this with great ease to health service matters.

9. A set of personal qualities that allows her to communicate clearly with the health sector.


The Australian Healthcare Association has great pleasure in awarding the 2004 AHA Sidney Sax Medal to Helen Lapsley.


Curriculun Vitae



New Zealand


Academic Qualifications:

Bachelor of Arts Auckland University, 1969

Master of Economics Sydney University, 1979


Current Positions:
Research Professor
Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine
University of Queensland Herston Brisbane Queensland 4006


Visiting Professor
Faculty of Medicine
University of New South Wales Sydney NSW 2052

Current Professional Appointments:

Member, National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions Advisory Group

Member, New South Wales Medical Board

Member, Pharmaceutical Benefits Remuneration Tribunal,

Member, Board of Counsellors, Baxter Health Services Research Prize Committee, Association of University Programs in Health Administration, USA.

National Councillor, Australian Healthcare Association

Board Member, Health Services Association of New South Wales

Member, Churchill Fellowship Committee, New South Wales

Member, Board of Management, Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales


Previous Professional Appointments

Member, Review of Australian Medical Workforce Advisory Committee (AMWAC)

Member, Governing Committee of NSW Cancer Control Network

Member, Australian New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group Central Ethics Committee

Member, Drugs Committee, St Vincents Public Hospital

Member, National Expert Advisory Committee on Tobacco

Member, Advisory Committee, The Simpson Centre for Health Service Research, South West Sydney Area Health Service

Member, Advisory Board, National Centre for Epidemiology, Population and Health, Australian National University

Chairperson, Mental Health Economic Task Force, Health Department of New South Wales

Member, Working Party to Review Nationally Funded Centre Status for Paediatric Liver Transplantation, Department of Health and Aged Care

Chairperson, Review of Melanoma Evidence-Based Guidelines, National Health & Medical Research Council

Member, Principal Committee, Guidelines for the Prevention, Early Detection and Treatment of Colorectal Cancer, Australian Cancer Network

Member, Working Party, Superspecialty Service Guidelines for Lung Transplantation Services, Australian Health Technology Advisory Committee

Board Member, Corrections Health Service, New South Wales

Chairperson, Australian Community Pharmacy Authority

Member, Quality of Health Care and Outcomes Committee, a standing committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council

Chairperson, Working Party on Guidelines Development and Implementation, Quality of Care and Health Outcomes Committee, National Health and Medical Research Council

Member, Health Care Committee, National Health and Medical Research Council

Member, Public Health Research and Development Committee, National Health and Medical Research Council

Member, Special Purposes Committee, National Health and Medical Research Council

Member, Economics Sub-Committee, Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health

Member, Research and Development Grants Advisory Committee, Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health

Member, Drug and Alcohol Advisory Committee, South Eastern Sydney Area Health Service

Councillor, NSW Branch of Australian Hospitals Association

Member, National Health Quality Management Program Evaluation Steering Committee, Department of Human Services and Health

Member, Education Advisory Committee, Australian Council on Healthcare Standards

Member, Corporate Planning and Strategic Management Committee, St Vincent's Public Hospital

Chairperson, Working Party on Beam and Isotope Radiotherapy, Australian Health Technology Advisory Committee

Membership of Institutes and Societies:

1. Fellow of the College of Health Service Executives

2. Vice-President of the International Health Policy and Management Institute

3. Member of the International Society for Quality Assurance in Health Care

4. Member of the International Health Economics Association

5. Member of the Economic Society of Australia

6. Member of Australian Health Economics Society

Editorial Appointments:

1993 - Editorial Board, Australian Health Review
1993 - 98 Editorial Advisory Board, Australian Casemix Bulletin
1990- 91 Guest Editor, Journal of Health Administration Education
1986 - 2002 Editorial Board, Australian Studies in Health Service Administration
1993 - 2002 Editor, Australian Studies in Health Service Administration
1999 Guest Editor, Australian Health Review


Professional Experience:

Until 2001, Helen Lapsley taught postgraduate courses in Health Economics, Quality Assurance, Health Care Systems, and Ethics of Resource Allocation in the School of Health Services Management, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales. She supervised 12 completed research theses, including seven PhDs.
She is currently a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Medicine .


International consultancies have been undertaken on behalf of:

• The World Bank
• World Health Organisation
• International Red Cross
• Australian International Development Assistance Bureau
* Rockefeller Foundation


Consultancies within Australian have been undertaken on behalf of:

• Commonwealth Government
• State Governments
• Australian Hospital Association
• Australian Private Hospital Association
• public and private hospitals


Recent consultancies include studies of the development of economic policies in health care, resource allocation, hospital and health care costs, the medical workforce, costs of drug and alcohol abuse, medical education, the development and integration of technology in the health care sector, hospital strategic planning and economic evaluation. Countries in which she has worked include Japan, Malaysia, Laos, China, Western Samoa and Fiji.


She has presented invited papers at conferences and symposia in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, England, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, The Netherlands and Switzerland.


She has been a member of a number of Commonwealth and State Government Committees and Task Forces, including the Commonwealth Government Task Force to Review Private Hospital Categorisation, the Review of the National Centre for Health Program Evaluation at Monash University and the Review of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centres in Sydney and Perth. She is a reviewer for economic and medical academic journals, and an assessor for national and international grants funding bodies.


Prior to her appointment at the University of New South Wales in 1977, she was an independent consultant and held a part-time appointment in the School of Economic and Financial Studies at Macquarie University, Sydney.


In 1974 she assisted in the establishment of a research project in the United Kingdom into sources for and distribution of Local Government finance, at the London School of Economics.


Early experience involved working in the securities industry in a number of capacities for two major sharebroking firms in New Zealand, including market analysis, portfolio selection, operating and financial analysis.