Category: News

Message from Professor Tom Hugh

Professor Tom Hugh

Another important academic position within the RNS SERT Institute (Lead, Surgical Excellence and Performance Change) will be advertised in the coming weeks and I encourage interested surgeons to apply (more on page 4). We will also be recruiting a 0.5 FTE administrative officer to support our ever-expanding work!

Based on feedback from surgical departments during our consultation process we have taken the following actions:

  • Started the recruitment process to appoint a dedicated surgical scientific officer to provide research support to the RNSH Division of Surgery (more on page 4)
  • Launched the RNS SERT Institute website (, which is being populated with information about surgical departments on the Northern campus, as well as profiles of surgical leaders working in the RNS SERT Institute. We anticipate this will become the main conduit for promoting surgical activity in our area. Shelly would appreciate any feedback you have about the website.
  • Assessed and developed a preliminary surgical research strategy, including our bio-statistics capacity and how the RNS SERT Institute can strengthen this further
  • Identified opportunities for collaboration with the academic anaesthetists at RNSH

We are planning an official launch of the RNS SERT Institute in June 2018. This will be another exciting milestone and an invitation will be extended to all clinicians and researchers within the Northern area.
The RNS DASO unit is also just about to announce the funding application outcomes to assist surgical departments with data management. 

International Clinical Trials Day Showcase

The RNS SERT Institute is collaborating with the Kolling Institute of Medical Research to celebrate the International Clinical Trials Day at the RNS hospital. The event is highly supported by the NHMRC. The Day itself falls on 20 May but because it is a Sunday this year, we will be celebrating it on Friday 18 May.
The RNS hospital’s main entrance foyer will be the showcase area where clinical trial posters will be displayed to raise awareness on the significance of innovation and research in professional practice.
All surgical departments are strongly encouraged to show-case their clinical trials, and also other research projects, at the foyer. This will also be an opportunity for us all to come together, including our community members and visitors, and learn about the great work that we are doing here!
Please contact Linda Pallot, Clinical Trials Research Nurse, Vascular Surgery, , if you are
interested to showcase or will like to help organise this event.

New Appointment – Dr Anthony Glover

Dr Anthony Glover

Anthony had been appointed to the SERT Institute as Lead for the Masters of Surgery program. Anthony is an Endocrine, Oncology and General Surgeon, and an NHMRC Early Career Fellow. His research focuses on understanding the molecular biology of endocrine cancers (thyroid and adrenal) to develop new treatments to improve outcomes. Anthony completed general surgical training at St Vincent’s Hospital (Sydney) and clinical fellowships in surgical oncology with the Royal Marsden Hospital (London) and with the University of Sydney Endocrine Surgical Unit. Anthony obtained a PhD for his work on the molecular biology of adrenal cancer with the Cancer Genetics Laboratory of the Kolling Institute (University of Sydney) and subsequently was awarded an NHMRC Neil Hamilton Fairley Early Career Fellowship which allowed him to obtain post-doctoral research training with the James Fagin Lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York).
Anthony is a newly appointed VMO at RNSH, a Clinical Lecturer with the Northern Clinical School and an instructor for the College of Surgeons for the improved outcomes and ASSET courses. His main role within the RNS SERT Institute will be to coordinate and expand the Masters of Surgery program on the Northern campus.

Visit from the NSW Ministry of Health

L-R Top row: Chrissie Crawford, Melinda Pascoe, Shelly Dhaliwal, Joe Portelli, Graham Hanson, Diane Elfleet, Prof Tom Hugh
L-R Bottom row: Maria Albania, Olivia Kirkland

We were recently visited by delegates of the NSW Ministry of Health’s Health System Purchasing and Performance Branch Melinda Pascoe and Chrissie Crawford. Their role includes advising the Ministry on improvement strategies, performance against key indicators and issues regarding elective surgical services. The purpose of their visit was to get a better understanding of the innovative projects going on within the RNSH Division of Surgery and Anesthesia.
The meeting was attended by Prof Tom Hugh; Diane Elfleet
(A/Divisional Nurse Manager, Division of Surgery and Anaesthesia), Shelly Dhaliwal, Maria Albania, Joe Portelli (Manager, Analytics and Business Intelligence Unit), Graham Hanson (Senior Business Analyst) and Olivia Kirkland (CNC, Acute Surgical Unit).

We had an opportunity to present the RNS SERT Institute and the RNS DASO Unit activities to date. We also discussed the Theatre Information Management System (TIMS), the Waitlist Application and the Acute Surgical Unit. It was an opportunity to share knowledge and there were discussions of the state-wide roll-out of some of our projects. Needless to say, the Ministry delegates were impressed by the great work going on at RNSH.

Sydney Medical Program Update

by Associate Professor Margaret Schnitzler

The surgical teaching component of the Sydney Medical Program has been favourably evaluated by students. However, we are always striving to improve the teaching of surgery and student experience. With this in mind, we ran the inaugural summer surgical program for 4 weeks in November/December 2017. This program is designed to give stage 1 and 2 students some exposure to surgery ahead of their clinical attachments in stage 3. Thirty-two students were placed with various surgical departments at RNSH and all participants indicated that their interest in surgery had increased. In the words of one student:

“I had the most fantastic week with the neurosurgery team. I learned many new skills and also gained a much greater understanding of how a surgical team fits into the day-to-day running of a large hospital. It was exciting and great fun and the surgeons were all very helpful and welcoming. I wish I could do it all again!”

It favourably that this will be an annual activity at the Northern Clinical School and we hope to expand the number of placements in coming years. The structured surgical teaching program has been extensively revised in the past couple of years with a focus on interactive and case-based sessions to complement the online lecture program. This year has seen the introduction of a series of clinical reasoning sessions on common surgical topics with a case student presentation and an expert surgical mentor. All of our Thirty-two is evaluated and student feedback is used to plan future sessions. We are fortunate to have an enthusiastic group of consultant surgeons and fellows who contribute to the surgical program at the Northern.

May 2018 newsletter is now available

Our May 2018 newsletter has been released.  Highlights include updates from the SERT and DASO teams, the Sydney Medical Program and the Postgraduate Research and Training Programs.

RNSH Data Analysis and Surgical Outcomes (DASO) Unit Update.

by Maria Albania

The RNS DASO Unit continues our recruitment progress by welcoming our first data manager Wally Shi. Wally has a degree in BSc. (Biological Science) and joined the Unit after a decade of service to NSW Health Pathology with SSWPS Liverpool, SEALS Prince of Wales, and Pathology West, Westmead. Wally has extensive experience in human resource management, auditing, preparation and presentation of key performance indicators, quality control, quality assurance, training, and workflow review, analysis and improvement. Wally is keen to continue developing strategies to help reduce errors and improve efficiencies of data processes.

The RNS DASO Unit also welcomes Peter Moritz, Acute Surgical Unit/DASO Unit data manager, who has extensive experience in clinical data systems, data management and analysis. Graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science) from the University of Queensland, Peter went on to study as a medical student within the Queensland Health and gained a valuable insight into the hospital system from a clinical perspective. Prior to joining the DASO Unit, Peter was a Clinical Data Analyst with a corporate healthcare company and developed reports on clinical data for a range of projects, including research investigations and the evaluation of federal government initiatives. Peter’s keen interest in the medical field has also seen him assist in biological research and volunteer with charities that help patients and their families. Peter brings a passion for developing robust data processes to evaluate programs and is always keen to further his knowledge of statistical analysis.

In other exciting news, we have been busy developing Powerforms and KPI data collection and analysis tools for the new Acute Surgical Unit, and a data manager for Interventional Neuroradiology is soon to come on board. A data manager for Cardiothoracic Surgery is also in the process of being recruited.

New Academic Appointment at RNSH

Dr Jonathon Parkinson was a medical student at RNSH, before going on to complete Neurosurgical training across Sydney and Newcastle. During this time, he also completed a PhD in the Cancer Genetics Laboratory at the Kolling Institute, examining the molecular biology of glioma. Following his Neurosurgical training, Jonathon undertook a fellowship in complex spinal surgery at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Alberta. On his return to Australia, he took up his current appointments as a VMO at Royal North Shore, North Shore Private and Sydney Adventist Hospitals. Jonathon’s main areas of clinical and research interest are in complex spinal surgery and neurooncology, with the latter seeing him on the Management Committee of the Co-operative Trials Group in Neuro-oncology (COGNO) Australasia’s dominant neuro-oncology society. He also has a keen interest in medical student, registrar and fellow education across both clinical and academic areas. Dr Parkinson has arranged for a RACS Foundation Skills for Surgical Educators (FSSE) course to be run at RNSH on Saturday 28th October 2017. This is a compulsory but highly regarded course for all surgeons who are in contact with surgical trainees. For more information about attending this or future courses please contact Jonathon at

Surgical Academia – Congratulations Dr Marcus Handmer

Dr Marcus Handmer

Surgical Academia is the engagement of surgeons beyond merely managing patients. It includes teaching, education, research and mentoring activities. It also involves surgeons taking leadership in the administration and decision-making of the hospital. This new section of the SERT newsletter recognises achievements of surgeons within and beyond their clinical practice.

We will like to congratulate Dr Marcus Handmer, a Urology registrar on the Northern rotation for winning the second prize in Bongiorno’s essay competition for his essay titled ‘Practical prescriptions for hospitals – improvement without reinvention.’ You can read the full essay here.

Please let Shelly know if you would like to showcase your department’s achievements through the SERT Institute.

Director of Surgical Skills Training Update

by Dr Anubhav Mittal

Clinical Skills Centre, RNSH

The Skills Centre has continued to deliver high-quality skills training under the direction of Dr A. Mittal and with the help of Ms Jenny Ludeman and her staff. The latest successful course was a home-grown advanced Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary laparoscopic course using cadaveric specimen which was well attended by national and international candidates. The Skills Module of the Masters of Surgery program to be held on 26-28th October 2017 will be the next major course that will be run by Professor Hugh and Dr Mittal.