TAAHC Memorandum of Understanding signing, 19 April 2016. From bottom left: Professor Ian Wronski, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Division of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University, Mr John Bearne, Chair, Townsville Hospital and Health Service Board, Ms Carolyn Eagle, Chair, Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Board
From top left: Professor Louis Schofield, Director, Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, Dr Peter Bristow, Chief Executive, Townsville Hospital and Health Service, Ms Julie Hartley-Jones, Chief Executive, Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, Ms Rosie Schmidt, Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service, Mr Terry Mehan, Acting Chief Executive, North West Hospital and Health Service, Mr Rob Moore, Chief Executive Officer, Northern Queensland Primary Health Network
The concept of establishing an Academic Health Centre (AHC) for northern Queensland and tropical Australia had been discussed within the various Hospital and Health Services in the region and at James Cook University for a number of years. A shared commitment to investigate the potential benefits of establishing a tropical AHC was identified in 2013 and 2014.
In March 2015, the Townsville and Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Boards provided in-principle support to take the next steps towards the establishment of an AHC in northern Queensland. A small delegation including representatives from across the collaboration attended a Study Tour to the United Kingdom in May/June 2015 to investigate models of AHCs and similar structures to inform the northern Queensland approach. A Study Tour Consensus Report was developed, which recommended the formation of a representative Steering Committee to drive establishment of the AHC.
TAAHC was established in September 2015 with the creation of a representative Steering Committee, consisting of the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Division of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University, the Director, the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine and the Chief Executive and Board Chairs of the five Hospital and Health Services in northern Queensland and the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network.
In April 2016, the partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish TAAHC. This recognised the potential of a unique tropically-focused academic health centre to enhance workforce development and improve the health of the northern Queensland population by growing health and medical research capacity in alignment with health service delivery and patient needs.