The inaugural NBMLHD conference created a moment in time to think about the things that actually matter to the Health District and certainly matter to patients.

Paul Ingle talks with Kay Hyman, Chief Executive of the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District in New South Wales.

Paul: We are now at day three of your inaugural conference – ‘Together achieving better health’ and so far, all of the reviews from people is that it has been a really well put together and a stunning conference. What was the thinking behind it?

Kay: The thinking started about 18 months ago before we had the certainty of the announcement of the redevelopment. I felt it was time that we had a bit of a coming of age and started to talk about some of the things that we are doing because quite often I would have staff come back from other conferences and say “so and so presented about something” and we had already done that or there was an idea that was reported to be new but it was something we did a long time ago. I think we have got quite good at doing things but not necessarily telling people about what we were doing.


“The great majority of us cannot listen; we find ourselves compelled to evaluate, because listening is too dangerous.”


Paul: There’s been an interesting set of themes that are running through the conference. Can you say some more about how you wanted to position the conference?

Kay: We’ve had the announcement of the redevelopment and many things that are changing the course of the organisation, so I thought it was an ideal time to think about the things that actually matter to us and certainly matter to patients. As well as building a billion dollars’ worth of new building, we move into that new building with a new way of doing things. So, we deliver a new health service in a new building.

Paul: Some of the theme has been about the person and the patient at the centre of what you do and also compassion and compassionate leadership as well and we’ve seen some examples where health can be tough at times and sometimes the compassion part gets a bit lost in the noise of all of that. That’s clearly been pretty important for you and your team as well to be I guess amplifying that message through the conference.

Kay: Absolutely. I think one of the things that is relatively special about the Nepean Blue Mountains is the size of our workforce compared to the size of the community that we serve. We have about five and a half thousand staff of which nearly 90% live locally and those that don’t live locally live just outside generally the local government areas that we serve. If you think about the Penrith area where we are today, population of 375,000 or so, the chance when you take our workforce, the chance that you are going to be caring for someone you know is much higher than if you’re in a major metropolitan inner-city hospital. That compels us and certainly compels me and my senior team to value even more compassion because it is the community that we serve.

Paul: The District is going to enjoy considerable new resources and you talked about making sure that resource is invested in a way that it is creating a 21st century plus model. What is the current thinking about how that investment is going to look for the District?

Kay: With architects engaged, we’ve got some fly-throughs of what the building might look like and if you look at hospitals that are built all round the world. We probably won’t architecturally look that different to many other places but for me what will be important is the way that we deliver care within those four walls and that is what I hope will be different to many other places and it will be partnering with patients and family and it will be having the compassion that we’ve talked about over the past three days.

Paul: Coming back to the conference itself, we are on day three and as I said earlier there has been a terrific line-up of speakers’ people who are here, lots of animated conversations and people who are hanging out in the HG chill lounge. So where to from here with the conference?

Kay: I am going to close the conference with a few words and I guess in that will be some challenges to Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District staff. I think we have some of those from the various speakers: Chris Baggoley this morning talked to us about “hope is not a plan.” One of the things that I will be doing with my team and the organisation broadly is going back and making sure that we are doing more than hope. That we are putting a plan together to ensure that we deliver what I am sure we are capable of.

Kay: Thank you to HardyGroup for their sponsorship. Without sponsors we couldn’t have such a great event. Thank you.