Dr Leon Wakefield Clarke recognised in Queen’s birthday Honours List

Dr Leon Clark, AM

Dr Leon Wakefield Clark of Empire Bay was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2021 Queen’s birthday Honours List for significant service to medical administration and to healthcare delivery.

Clark has enjoyed a stellar career in the field of medicine, with a particular interest in consumer empowerment.

He said news of his award was met with a mixture of merriment and surprise.

“It’s not something you really expect in life,” he said.

“My wife had known for several months but had kept it a secret.”

Clark began his career as an obstetrician in the Newcastle area, operating first out of Royal Newcastle Hospital, and then establishing a practice, from which he worked with three hospitals over a period of 10 years.

“I probably delivered around 2,500 babies during that time,” he said.

“I was also a gynaecologist, specialising in IVF and infertility.

“They were exciting times in the field of IVF; I started an IVF program in Newcastle and it was extraordinarily successful.

“In those days Australia was leading the world in that area, and I was often invited to speak overseas.”

Clark took the opportunity to move to Sydney as Medical Executive Officer at The San, later becoming the CEO – a position he held for 13 years.

His main passions throughout his career were improving safety and quality in healthcare and consumer empowerment.

“I was anxious to get patients more involved and aware,” he said.

For two years he led a lobby group which eventually succeeded in obtaining item numbers for IVF, making the process affordable for those who wanted to have a baby and couldn’t.

“My interest in consumer welfare started then,” he said.

Positions held by Clark during his career included: Chief Medical Advisor, icare NSW, 2016-2018; Group Chief Executive Officer, Adventist HealthCare, 2012-2015; Chief Executive Officer, Sydney Adventist Hospital, 2002-2012; and Visiting Gynaecologist, City West Day Surgery, Westmead, 1998-2002.

He also served as Director, Medi-Aid Centre Foundation, 2009-2015; Chair, San Foundation, 2008-2018 and 2002-2005; Chair, Board of Management, Australasian Research Institute, 2003-2016; Director, Australian Council on Health Care Standards, 2001-2004; and as Board Member and Chair of the Sydney Adventist Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees from 2002.

Clark was National President of the Australian Private Hospitals Association from 2004-2006 and a Board Member from 2001-2007 and served in various roles in the Fertility Society of Australia from 1989-1993.

Other awards he has received include: Vocational Excellence Award, Rotary International, 2014; Honorary Fellow, University of Sydney, 2016; and IVF Director of the Year, Fertility Society of the Year, 1992.

“I have enjoyed every minute of my career and am still active in certain areas of particular interest,” he said.

He is still involved with the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission and the Agency for Clinical Innovation.

Clark retired to Empire Bay in 2017 with wife Jan, whom he met when she was working as a nurse for the IVF program in Newcastle.

Between them they have five children and 10 grandchildren.

Terry Collins