Physio rose to be executive

Southern District Health Board retiring chief allied health, scientific and technical officer Lynda McCutcheon in the Fraser Building gymnasium where she trained as a physiotherapist. Photo: Linda Robertson
Southern District Health Board retiring chief allied health, scientific and technical officer Lynda McCutcheon in the Fraser Building gymnasium where she trained as a physiotherapist. Photo: Linda Robertson
Southern District Health Board chief allied health, scientific and technical officer Lynda McCutcheon believes she is retiring on a high.

''I feel really positive about where we are going and it seems counterintuitive to leave at a really good time, but it does feel right,'' Mrs McCutcheon (61) said.

A trained physiotherapist, Mrs McCutcheon rose through the ranks to become the SDHB's head of physiotherapy.

A series of restructures meant that more and more aspects of healthcare were grafted on to her areas of responsibility, with occupational therapy, dietetics, social work, forensic psychiatrists, anaesthetics technicians and a range of about 40 specialties eventually being grouped as ''allied health''.

''Medicine and nursing were always the biggest workforces, but for all the other allied and technical workforces, getting a partnership voice at the table was quite a journey, right across the country,'' Mrs McCutcheon said.

''In 2003 there were a small group of us, two or three health boards, which had five or so therapies grouped in this allied health construct, but going forward it became a question of where did all the other professions sit?

''All 20 DHBs now have a role like this, partnering with their chief medical officer and chief nursing officer, and the most exciting thing is that the Ministry of Health now, for the first time, has a chief allied health professions officer.''

Mrs McCutcheon has strongly advocated for health practitioners to work together in partnership, and played a leading role in the SDHB's strategic and primary and community plan processes.

She said those exercises had both set up the organisation well for the future and as it decided what health services the new Dunedin Hospital would provide on site.

''The SDHB has to think about the health system and the hospital, while important, is only a small part of people's health journey which touches them when urgent help is needed.

''Most of the care happens outside of the hospital, and we need to get that care closer to people's homes ... particularly for our rural folk, so they do not need to travel a long way unless they need to be here in the building.''

As well as her SDHB role, Mrs McCutcheon has also served on South Island Alliance committees, and was a member of the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand for nine years.

Retiring now meant she could take a long-planned trip to see overseas-based family, and would also allow her successor to implement allied health's role in the new hospital, in healthcare homes and healthcare hubs.

''I feel very privileged to have had my career path,'' Mrs McCutcheon said.

''You never lose your clinical background and I still have my practising certificate ... but in my management role I have been lucky to have very fulfilling leadership roles and work with some outstanding people.''

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

 

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