The conference, held at the University’s Susan Wakil Health Building, discussed the innovation and change that had been evident in local health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Executive Director - Health Protection NSW, Dr Jeremy McAnulty PSM, gave a keynote address which provided an insider’s view of the unfolding of the public health crisis in 2020. Fellow keynote presenter and Director of Evidence and Evaluation at the NSW Ministry of Health, Dr Andrew Milat, discussed some of the lessons from COVID and how they might inform future strategy and priorities for health and medical research in NSW.

The Executive Director of Sydney Health Partners, Professor Don Nutbeam, said that during the pandemic there had been an observable acceleration of the translation of innovation and intelligence from research into clinical and public health practice and policy.

“We heard numerous examples during the course of the Annual Forum of the health ministry and health services making decisions based on the best available evidence,” he said.

“We should take heart from that and lessons about how we can condense the time it takes to get innovation and good evidence into sustained clinical and public health practice.”

The Annual Forum also featured a panel discussion about the challenges of encouraging and enabling clinicians to participate more fully in research and translation.

Professor Nutbeam said the panel highlighted lots of practical ways in which health services can better support our clinician scientists and clinical researchers.

“We need to protect and defend the time available for our clinicians to conduct research and we should encourage engagement amongst those who are not involved in research,” he said.

“We need to remind everyone that the best reason to embed research into health care, to conduct clinical trials and to engage the largest number of clinicians in research is that ultimately it delivers better healthcare and health outcomes to our patients and our community.”

Professor Nutbeam said that after six years of operations Sydney Health Partners remained focused on doing things that add distinct value and avoid duplicating the efforts of others in health and medical research.

Research Director, Associate Professor Angela Todd, presented the Forum with an update on SHP’s recent research enabling activities, including enhancing research governance, consumer and community involvement and the planning and conduct of clinical trials.

University of Sydney Professor Andrew Baillie announced a further SHP commitment to building capacity and capability in implementation science with the appointment of Associate Professor Leanne Hassett from the Sydney School of Health Sciences, and Dr Heather Shepherd from the Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery.

The Forum concluded with the presentation of the inaugural Sydney Health Partners’ Annual Awards. The winners were:

Dr Nicola Clayton – Sydney Local Health District
Award for Research Collaboration Across the SHP Partnership

Leonie Cranney – The University of Sydney
Award for Translational Research Addressing a Health Priority

Dr Stephanie Partridge – The University of Sydney
Award for Consumer Involvement in Health Research

Dr Anna Singleton – The University of Sydney
Award for Significant Research Contribution to Women’s Health

Dr Rebecca Sutherland – Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network
Award for Using Research to Change Health Practice