New governance head not fazed by hot seat

Leading Melbourne neurosurgeon and academic Prof Andrew Kaye is relaxed about being the man in the hot seat as the chairman of the governance board to establish the new-look South Island neurosurgery service.

"I thrive on criticism," he joked after yesterday's Wellington media conference announcing the changes to the neurosurgery services, adding that an extra knife in his back would not worry him.

He was responding to questions about the difficulties of uniting people who may have had strongly differing views and whether he expected flak over being an Australian.

Prof Kaye said it would have been difficult to find a person in New Zealand without prior involvement in the matter to chair the board.

He joked he had been called in because he was close and would have involved the cheapest airfare, later saying he had yet to discuss fees for his new role.

Mrs Kolbe, an Auckland paediatric surgeon originally from Australia and head of Auckland University's clinical school, who headed the panel given the task of sorting out the future configuration of South Island neurosurgery services, emphasised during the neurosurgery debate that having the right people in leadership roles would be crucial to the success of any changes.

Yesterday she said it had been really important to have someone of Prof Kaye's standing involved.

A biography issued as part of the media briefing showed he was a leading figure in neurosurgery, both as a clinician and academic.

Speaking about his new role, Prof Kaye said the commonsense report of the expert panel which had been looking at the future configuration of the service had provided a good basis to work from.

He was particularly pleased about the academic neurosurgery component of the proposal as academic neurosurgery, with its components of clinical practice, research and teaching, was something he had been passionate about for a long time.

The academic aspect to the proposal, which involves the appointments of a professor of neurosurgery and a senior lecturer at the University of Otago's Dunedin campus, was a way of pushing neurosurgery forward in New Zealand and in the rest of the world.

The involvement of the University of Otago was critical to the proposals.

The university was an icon, a bright spot in tertiary education in New Zealand which competed well with the rest of the world.

Men such as Murray Falconer, who established the first South Island neurosurgical unit at Dunedin Hospital in 1943, were part of a "fantastic history" of neurosurgery.

Asked whether he was expecting to encounter difficulties dealing with those who might have expressed strongly opposed views on the future format of neurosurgery services, Prof Kaye said he hoped that now the decision was made people would see the greater good and work toward achieving it.

He considered the most difficult task would be getting the right people involved.

It would be much easier to recruit people to Dunedin now the future of the service was secure.

Prof Kaye is clear that his role is governance and he has already had preliminary discussions with a possible manager for the service.

It was not unusual in places such as North America for neurosurgery services to be spread across more than one site.

This did not mean, however, a single roster across both sites, and each centre would have its own resident neurosurgeons - at least three people in Dunedin and four in Christchurch.

These numbers were "the bare bones" and could increase over time, he said.


Prof Andrew Kaye

1973: Graduated from University of Melbourne; further training in Oxford, London and at the Cleveland Clinic.

1983: Appointed neurosurgeon at Royal Melbourne Hospital.

1992: Appointed professor of neurosurgery at the University of Melbourne.

1997: Appointed James Stewart Professor of Surgery, and Head of the Department of Surgery at the University of Melbourne, Royal Melbourne Hospital.

2010: Awarded the Medal of Honour from the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies for outstanding contribution to neurosurgery.




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