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Stephen John Duckett (born 18 February 1950) is an economist and health services manager who has occupied leadership roles in health services in both Australia and Canada. He is currently the program director of Health at the Grattan Institute.
Stephen Duckett was born in Sydney and educated at Woollahra Public School (Opportunity classes) and Fort Street High School. He subsequently studied economics at the Australian National University (BEc) and health administration at the University of New South Wales (MHA, PhD). His academic contributions have been recognized by the University of New South Wales by the award of a higher doctorate, Doctor of Science, (DSc), and by election as a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (FASSA).
Career 1970s to 2009
Dr Duckett worked as an academic (Lecturer/Senior Lecturer) in the School of Health Administration at the University of New South Wales from 1974 to 1983. He was an active public commentator supporting Australia's Medicare scheme, and worked with a number of non-government organizations such as the Australian Council of Social Service and the New South Wales Council on the Ageing. His research also examined aspects of hospital administration
He worked in the Victorian health system for a number of years from 1983 including as Regional Director and subsequently Director of Acute Health for the Victorian Department of Health and Community Services, in the latter role he was responsible for introducing case mix funding to Australia. This was the first major application of this approach to hospital funding in a publicly funded health system
He was appointed Departmental Secretary to the Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health (now the Department of Health and Ageing) in 1994 and served in that role until the election of the (conservative) Howard Government in 1996.
From 1996 to 2005 he worked at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia as Professor of Health Policy, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and, for part of that period, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Learning and Teaching. During this period he continued research on aspects of hospital economics and published a book on the Australian health care system.
Dr Duckett served as chair of the Board of Directors of the Brotherhood of St Laurence (2000–2005) and of Bayside Health (2000–2006).
Alberta Health Services (2009-10)
Dr Duckett was hired by the provincial government of Alberta in the spring of 2009 as President and Chief Executive Officer of its newly created health "superboard," Alberta Health Services with a significant reform agenda. (Alberta Health Services is a quasi-independent agency of the Alberta government created in May 2008 to operate hospitals and other public health services throughout the province of Alberta). Dr Duckett moved to Edmonton Alberta and took up his duties on 23 March of that year.
Shortly after his appointment, the provincial government imposed a significant ($1billion) budget cut on Alberta Health Services. Implementation of these cuts by Alberta Health Services was unpopular and controversial.
On 20 November 2010, Stephen Duckett came under scrutiny for televised remarks to the media following a high-level meeting about the situation in the province’s emergency rooms. During the aired segment, Duckett refused to answer questions by reporters waiting outside the meeting room, using the excuse he was eating his cookie and that another person had been designated to make comments. He later issued an apology noting that he had not felt comfortable as a non-elected official being asked to respond to the comments of other, elected, officials. He has subsequently stated that he had been instructed by the office of Alberta Premier Stelmach not to make any comments. On 24 November 2010, following political intervention , the chairman of the Alberta Health Services Board announced that Duckett's contract was terminated and that with mutual agreement, he had been released from his contractual obligations. Both parties felt that his ability to continue in his duties had been "compromised". On 29 July 2011, based on the terms of his contract, Duckett was paid one year's salary as severance pay.
Career 2011 - 2014
Since leaving Alberta Health Services, Dr Duckett has been a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, and has published a book about the future of the health care system in Canada.
- Duckett, S.J. et al. The organisation of medical staff in Australian hospitals. Churchill Livingstone, 1981
- Duckett, S.J. Hospital payment arrangements to encourage efficiency: the case of Victoria, Australia. Health Policy 34:2 pp113-134, 1995 '
- CTV (19 November 2010). "Stephen Duckett's "Cookie Exchange" with Edmonton media". CTV News. Retrieved 19 November 2010.
- blog entry
- see page 175 of Health Quality Council of Alberta. "Review of the Quality of Care and Safety of Patients Requiring Access to Emergency Department Care and Cancer Surgery and the Role and Process of Physician Advocacy".
- CBC (24 November 2010). "Alberta health board replaces controversial CEO". CBC News. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
- Alberta Health Services. "Settlement agreement with Dr. Stephen Duckett concluded". Retrieved 29 July 2011.
- Duckett, Stephen Where to from here? Keeping Medicare Sustainable. McGill Queen's University Press, 2012