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Dr Thomas J Hugh

Screen shot 2011-02-16 at 9.53.25 PM.pngMD, FRACS

Dr Thomas Hugh is Head of the Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery at Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH). He is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney and practices as an Upper GI Surgeon with a major interest in liver, gallbladder and hernia surgery.

Dr Hugh graduated from the University of Sydney in 1987. He completed his residency and General Surgical training at Royal North Shore Hospital from 1987-1994. He was admitted to a Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1994.

From 1994 to 1997 Dr Hugh continued his training in Upper Gastrointestinal cancer surgery in the United Kingdom working at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and then at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital in Liverpool. During this time he also completed a period of full-time laboratory research, which resulted in an MD from the University of Liverpool, UK in 1998.

Dr Hugh was appointed as an Upper Gastrointestinal Surgical Oncologist at Royal North Shore Hospital in 1999. He has been Head of the Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery since 2007.

Dr Hugh’s academic and research interests include training of surgical skills in the Sydney Clinical Skills & Simulation Centre at Royal North Shore Hospital as well as regular clinical audits of patients undergoing major Upper Gastrointestinal cancer surgery.

He has been an Executive Member of several surgical sub-speciality associations including the Sydney Upper Gastrointestinal Surgical Society (SUGSS) and the Australian and New Zealand Hepato-Biliary and Pancreatic Association (ANZ HPBA).

Dr Hugh’s thoughts on the redevelopment of RNSH

Dr Hugh has been involved in the RNSH redevelopment planning process for the past seven years. He has attended many meetings and provided clinical advice regarding the redevelopment plans right from the early stages of the project. Dr Hugh believes that the new hospital will be a major improvement on the current hospital and that it has the potential to improve patient care and raise staff morale if developed appropriately. While there have been  some changes in what many of the clinicians believe was a flawed original brief for the redevelopment, there remain several sticking points. Along with many other senior clinical advisors, Dr Hugh has significant concerns about a number of unresolved issues.

Firstly, there will only be 14 more acute surgical and medical beds in the new hospital compared with the number in the current hospital. This is despite extensive advice and recommendations from the clinicians (backed by data about population growth and future demand) suggesting that at least 60 more beds are required in order to practice safely and productively. The restricted bed numbers in the current hospital leads to daily access block in RNSH and this has a negative impact at multiple levels, from the Emergency Department, through to the Operating Rooms, and on to Discharge Planning. The result is a severe restriction on patient throughput.

Dr Hugh is also concerned about the proposed sale of a large proportion of the RNSH campus. This will severely impair any future expansion on the campus and ultimately lead to the demise of RNSH as the re-developed hospital is likely to be surrounded by high-rise units. This short-sighted action to sell a large part of the RNSH campus in order to partly fund the rebuild will not benefit future patients of RNSH.

The clinical and non-clinical staff strongly condemn these aspects of the re-development and, instead, insist that additional acute surgical and medical beds (at least 60 more) be added to the new hospital plans and that no land sell-off take place.