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Q and A with Dr John Adams

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Dr John Adams is the new Chair of the Clinical Leadership Group – the senior clinical staff guiding the clinical direction of the New Dunedin Hospital.

He takes over from Dr David Perez as part of a two-person leadership team with Dr Carol Atmore in place as Deputy Chair.

Dr Adams is a psychiatrist whose current major role is as Associate Dean of Student Affairs for the Otago Medical School and Dunedin School of Medicine

Dr John Adams

What attracted me to the role

I’m really excited about the possibility of contributing to a once in a generation opportunity. I’ve been a Dunedin clinician for a long time. I trained here as a medical student. I trod the halls of this hospital and Wakari as a house surgeon. I trained in psychiatry here in Dunedin.

Spending this amount of money we need to make sure we’re doing it in the right way, that clinicians’ voices are heard, and that we build on the strengths we have. I don’t see it as my role to push any particular barrow. My role is to facilitate the generation of the clinical voice, transmit that to where it’s needed and make sure that it’s heard.

The place of the university

The connection between the university and the hospital in Dunedin doesn’t exist to the same extent anywhere else in New Zealand. This relationship is part of Dunedin’s history, part of what the university and hospital services have been about since the 1870s. To me, it’s about fostering that relationship, and helping create a learning environment for students in particular, but for everyone, in the new hospital.

It’s not just about a physical building

It’s certainly clear to me that this is not just about building a physical hospital. It’s about building on the moves that have already been made around how the hospital works, and how it relates with primary care and the whole plan of health services in the region and the South Island. The New Dunedin Hospital is going to be a really important cog in the whole of the health services in the South Island. Part of the planning will be about how the clinicians continue to develop those exciting new ways of collaborative functioning, both internally and externally.

Peering into the future

What is the work in the new hospital going to look like, in 10 years’ time, or in 40 years’ time? We will be trying to think about the direction of care and how it’s developing because what we don’t want is the physical hospital to inhibit the way we might work into the future. Where are the trajectories? What is happening and what is likely to happen in the future? We are going to need flexibility.

Big shoes to fill

Trying to fill David’s shoes will be a big task. He and the CLG have done a tremendous amount. They are clearly a very skilled and experienced group of people and it’s going to be a pleasure to work with them. The papers that David and the CLG have written are really impressive and are already setting the strategic direction. As the years progress into the details of design, getting the principles that guide that final design and the strategic direction is very important.

The challenge of bringing different voices together

A big part of the job will be facilitating discussions to get to a point where the group feels there is a consensus. That is a part of the work that I look forward to because I enjoy helping people come together around decisions and directions.

Dr Carol Atmore


The leadership team

Carol brings such a wealth of experience and knowledge, that working with her will be a great pleasure. We’ll be trying to provide some glue and direction and making sure as much as we can that the clinical voice is heard.

I don’t see this job as me stamping my own views on things, it’s much more about gathering the views of other people. So we have to see the lie of the land, and what CLG members think is important and work from there. Carol and I are going to work together – making sure we’re doing liaison up and down through the organisation.