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Clinician Connect

Awarding the inaugural Daniel Comerford Medal

By Professor Brian McCaughan, AM

23 Feb 2021 Reading time approximately


In the December ACI Board Meeting, I had the great pleasure of announcing the first recipient of The Daniel Comerford Medal for 2020 to be Professor Ian Harris. Last month I was fortunate to be joined by Sally and Thomas Comerford to present the medal to Ian; a rare in-person experience during these times.

Professor Ian Harris receives the Daniel Comerford medal. (L to R) Professor Brian McCaughan AM, ACI Board Chair; Thomas Comerford; Sally Comerford; Professor Ian Harris; and Dr Jean-Frederic Levesque, Chief Executive, ACI.
Professor Ian Harris receives the Daniel Comerford Medal. (L to R) Professor Brian McCaughan, AM, ACI Board Chair; Thomas Comerford; Sally Comerford; Professor Ian Harris; and Dr Jean-Frederic Levesque, Chief Executive, ACI.

The Medal was created to honour the lifetime achievements and commitment of Dan Comerford; colleague, leader and friend to many, who passed away in 2019. Dan was a highly regarded and inspiring leader, known for his passion for improving both the patient and staff experience across NSW. These attributes became the hallmark of The Daniel Comerford Medal.

Ian Harris is a worthy recipient of such an award. As a practicing orthopaedic surgeon and an academic who combines these interests to demonstrate what constitutes effective treatment for patients. I have witnessed Ian’s approach as part of the Unwarranted Clinical Variation Taskforce, drawing on his clinical experience and research to examine low value care procedures. He has worked to reduce the rates of knee arthroscopy in NSW which have no proven benefit for many patients. Ian has been co-chair of ACI’s Musculoskeletal Network since 2017. This is exactly the work that Dan would have advocated for.

To support the award, the ACI established a panel of senior staff from the health system to nominate candidates who met the criteria for the award, demonstrating both extraordinary leadership and strong commitment to improving the health outcomes of the people of NSW.
Congratulations to Ian, the first in what will be a long list of recipients for this award. I am pleased Dan’s legacy will continue to be remembered, discussed and celebrated in this way.

Professor Brian McCaughan, AM

Chair of the Board, Agency for the Clinical Innovation

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