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Professor Cliff Hughes

Immediate Past President

Clifford Frederick Hughes AO, D.Sc. MB.BS, Ad. Dip. Man., FRACS, FACS, FACC, FCSANZ, FAAQHC, FISQua, FIACS(Hon), JP. 

Professor Cliff Hughes AO is the Immediate Past President of the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua) having just completed two years as its President. He is chair of the Board Accreditation Council for ISQua.  He is Professor, Patient Safety and Clinical Quality, Macquarie University.  Formerly a cardiothoracic surgeon he was Chief Executive of the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission for ten years and has published widely on cardiothoracic surgery, quality and safety. 

He holds an Alumni Award from the University of NSW. He is an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO).  In 2014, he graduated from the University of NSW as a Doctor of Science its highest academic award. In 1997 he was awarded an honorary Fellowship by the Indian Association of Cardiac Surgeons. The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons awarded him the Sir Hugh Devine Medal in 2015. This is the highest honour the College can present to a Fellow in their lifetime He has been appointed an Honorary Director or Honorary Consultant in 5 hospitals in the Peoples Republic of China. 

He served the Australasian College as a member of the Board of Studies in Cardiothoracic surgery, Chairman of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Examiner and Senior Examiner  in the same speciality.  A Member of Council for nine years he led the introduction of IT services, the Ethics committee and was founding chair of the Women in Surgery committee. 

He is an Advisory Board member for the Medstar Institute for Quality and Safety in Washington, DC and an Advisor to the WHO Policy Roundtable on Quality in Health Services, a Consultant in Quality and Safety, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital and Visiting Professor at Imperial College, London.  

He has been active in community affairs for many years and served as Chairperson of HopeStreet Urban Compassion, an inner-city ministry of the Baptist Churches in NSW & ACT. He was President of the Baptist Churches in NSW and ACT and oversaw the introduction of the “ordination of women” and “aboriginal reconciliation” during his term of office. He served as President of the Lane Cove branch of the Liberal Party of Australia and is a life member of Vision Australia and the NSW branch of Red Cross (Australia).

His clinical passion is patient safety, quality Improvement and the development of clinical leaders. He has reviewed many hospitals and clinical units for State and national Governments. He is deeply committed to Person Based Care in all his work. 

For thirteen years he was Chair of the Therapeutic Devices Evaluation Committee for the Australian Government and presided over the introduction of incident reporting, recall procedures device tracking and effective regulation of implantable devices.

During his tenure as CEO of the Clinical Excellence Commission he was responsible for the introduction of over 30 clinical improvement strategies most notably the “Between the Flags” program which has been described as the largest and most successful whole-of-system change in health care in Australia.    

He is married with three adult children and ten grandchildren.  He owned a Poll Hereford cattle farm in the Southern Highlands of NSW for almost 20 years. His herd was considered among the best in the district and topped the sale prices at the final dispersal sale of his animals. 

His major hobby is railways, large and small and in addition to a number of model layouts he is a “qualified” steam train driver on the Bluebell Railway in Sussex, UK.  In 1990, he averted a major derailment by personally repairing the track of the Main Western Railway line between Sydney and Perth.