APA celebrates at annual awards night as CEO announces retirement

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The Australian Patients Association (APA) hosted its annual awards night in Melbourne last week, with CEO Stephen Mason announcing his planned retirement from the role after over 12 years.

Mr Mason will be succeeded by David Clarke.

The awards night was attended by more than 200 people. The awards recognise excellence in the healthcare sector and the contribution of doctors, pharmacists, patient advocates, health reporters, innovators and hospitals.

Special guest speaker, Judi Adams AO, who is living with pancreatic cancer, spoke about her journey.

She emphasised the importance of patient involvement at every stage of the journey in making informed choices, and decisions.

Dr Nick Coatsworth, APA Ambassador for Health Reform said, “The APA awards recognise individuals and organisations who have kept the patient at the core of their work. It’s been wonderful to see more than two thousand nominations from around the country, showing that despite of the challenges our health system faces, there are so many people and organisations that maintain a commitment to excellence in patient care.

"Making positive change in the healthcare system is not just about fixing problems - it’s also about recognising excellence, as a demonstration of what can be achieved and providing a guide, from the patients’ perspective, of what excellence in healthcare is really all about.”

Jason Sammut of Noosa Head was recognised as the most outstanding community pharmacist.

Pharmacy Guild National President Professor Trent Twomey said Mr Sammut displays all the attributes it encourages in the profession.

“As a passionate community pharmacist, I encourage our profession to go the extra mile to make a difference for our patients,” said Professor Twomey.

“It’s great to see Jason’s efforts being fittingly recognised and he follows in the footsteps of the most dedicated pharmacists who have previously been named ‘Most Outstanding Community Pharmacist’ by the APA.”

Shellie Braverman of the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council was recognised as the most outstanding patient advocate.

The APA is supported by Pfizer, AbbVie, Bristol Myers Squibb, Amgen, CSL, Merck, BeiGene, Novartis, Wesfarmers Health, Janssen, Seqirus, Private Healthcare Australia, Medibank Private, and the Pharmacy Guild.

Pfizer Australia presented the most outstanding patient campaign award to the Cancer Council Victoria for its ‘See Through the Haze' anti-vaping campaign.

According to Leigh Simmonds, the senior manager for patient advocacy at Pfizer Australia and New Zealand, “It is really important to encourage excellence and innovation in healthcare, because all of our lives depend on it.

“Pfizer’s purpose is to deliver breakthroughs that change patients’ lives. This is underpinned by our values – courage, excellence, equity, and joy. That is one of the reasons why Pfizer sponsors these awards, because it aligns with our values. We are certainly celebrating together with the award winners with great joy. Congratulations to all.”

Simmonds said it dedicated this year's award to the Australian Patients Association's administration manager, Wendy Benson, who recently passed away.

“As a founding sponsor, we value Pfizer’s partnership with these awards and it is so touching for Pfizer to choose to honour and dedicate their award this year for Most Outstanding Patient Campaign to our APA colleague Wendy Benson, who sadly passed away recently," added Stephen Mason.