Member for Page Kevin Hogan, alongside outgoing Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Chris Crawford.
Member for Page Kevin Hogan, alongside outgoing Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Chris Crawford.

Crawford to retire after storied career at the helm

AFTER 15 years running the Northern Rivers' public health system, Chris Crawford will retire at the end of this year.

The Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive announced his intention to retire in a statement on Wednesday night.

Mr Crawford said he had stayed in the position since the end of the old North Coast Area Health Service to deal with "unfinished business", but that work was now done.

The "unfinished business" included the completed upgrades of the Grafton Base Hospital and the Yamba Community Health Centre.

Mr Crawford's retirement will mark the end of a long period as the most powerful individual in Northern Rivers health services and a career often marked by controversy.

He began in the role in 2000 as the chief executive of the former Northern Rivers Area Health Service and continued in the role through another two identity changes as the area's footprint expanded and contracted again.

In 2006 he clashed with local politicians and medicos with his decision to close the public rehabilitation unit based at St Vincent's Hospital and later clashed with the Coraki community over the decision to downgrade the town's Campbell Hospital.

However, he has also presided over an enormous increase in activity by Northern Rivers public health services, including, a near doubling of the number of inpatients treated by the region's hospitals, and the region's foray into health education with the University Centre for Rural Health Campuses.

"It has been a privilege to lead such a talented and dedicated group of clinicians and staff over the past fifteen years," Mr Crawford said. His term as chief executive will finish with the end of his current five year contract.



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