Thursday, August 24, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Diverse Expertise Unites As New Hospital Board Appointed

By Amanda Wright

Steering the course for enhanced healthcare in the region, a fresh chapter unfolds as a new six-member Board takes the helm of the Mackay Hospital and Health Service.

With a diverse array of expertise spanning emergency medicine, business, nursing, and law, these board members herald a promising era of leadership. Their appointment marks a decisive step following the dissolution of the previous Board in November 2022, signalling a renewed commitment to quality healthcare and community well-being.

Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women Shannon Fentiman has announced the new board, which will be led by Helen Darch OAM, an experienced board member in government and not-for-profit sectors.

Membership also includes highly respected emergency physician Associate Professor Dr Luke Lawton, and Head of Nursing and Midwifery at James Cook University Dr Maureen Chapman.

The new board, which will set the strategic direction and oversee the management of Mackay HHS, consists of:

• Helen Darch OAM (Chair)
More than 13 years of Board experience, including with Metro South HHS
• Kerry Maley (Deputy Chair)
A qualified Advanced Social Worker with over 25 years’ experience in community service delivery in the public and private sectors
• Dr Maureen Chapman
Based in Mackay, she completed a Bachelor of Nursing in the US in 1995 and also holds a Master of Nursing Studies and Education Doctorate
• Associate Professor Dr Luke Lawton
Formerly Director of Emergency Medicine at Townsville HHS, Dr Lawton’s experience includes serving as an independent expert witness providing opinions to state coroners’ courts, top tier national health panel defence firms, Crown law, and major plaintiff firms
• Dr Peter O’Mara
A General Practitioner specialising in Indigenous health. He is the past President of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association
• William Cooper
Mr Cooper has strong governance, legal and finance and board experience across a range of Mackay based organisations and community groups and was named Mackay Citizen of the Year in 2005

Minister Fentiman said the appointment of the new Board is a crucial step forward in driving service improvements and cultural change within Mackay HHS.

“I’m pleased Mackay HHS has been able to attract such experienced, knowledgeable and well-respected people to the Board and I know they will make a positive impact,” she said.

The new board takes over from the Mackay HHS administrator Karen Roach, who was appointed in November 2022 following the dismissal of the previous board.

“I want to thank Karen Roach for her work as Mackay HHS administrator, which has been instrumental in ensuring appropriate governance is in place for the Mackay HHS,” Minister Fentiman said.

“Ms Roach will continue to help with the transition to the new Board as an adviser appointed under the Act for one month."

The establishment of the new Board follows the appointment in June of experienced health professional Susan Gannon as chief executive.

Minister Fentiman also said the new board and chief executive will play a critical role in overseeing the implementation of reforms stemming from the Mackay HHS’ obstetrics and gynaecology review.

A new Mackay Hospital and Health Service board will be led by Helen Darch OAM

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