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Dr Jillann Farmer, from regional Queensland, to the United Nations and back again

What do regional Queensland, the United Nations, Queensland Health and a passion for patient safety have in common?

One name – Dr Jillann Farmer, the newly appointed head of Clinical Excellence Queensland.

“With a workforce boasting some of the world’s best and brightest in leadership positions, Queensland Health looks far and wide when it comes to senior appointments,” said Director-General Dr John Wakefield.

“We search the world to fill these positions, and it’s a rare win when we feel the best person has amazing global experience but they’re a homegrown, local product as well; this is the essence of Dr Farmer.”

Before she took up her role as UN Medical Director in 2012, Dr Farmer worked as a clinical doctor, a medical executive and patient safety improvement leader.  With experience of working in regional and metropolitan hospitals, at the Department of Health and for the Commonwealth, Dr Farmer has a deep understanding of the health system, and of Queenslanders.

Dr Farmer was originally planning to start back in Queensland in May, however, following a personal request by the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, António Guterres, Dr Farmer has agreed to continuing her role at the UN to assist the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) response. She will begin her role in June.

“Dr Farmer has been a wonderful contributor to the work of the United Nations,” UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said.

“I’d like to thank Dr Farmer for her work and I’d like to thank Queensland Health for allowing to stay here a little longer.

“I wish her well for her return to Queensland.”

Clinical Excellence Queensland is a vital part of the Department of Health and works with clinicians and consumers to ensure that Queensland is at the leading edge of implementing care systems that provide the best possible patient safety and reliability.

“It’s fair to say few careers have taken the upward trajectory that Dr Farmers’ has. She comes back to Queensland Health via New York, where she’s performed of the most senior medical leadership role within the United Nations.

“Dr Farmer has functioned as the Surgeon-General equivalent for UN Troops deployed in peacekeeping missions, whilst also being the Director of civilian healthcare in United Nations facilities worldwide. She has been in charge of the UN’s internal response to major disease outbreaks such as Ebola, Zika and now COVID-19; experience that will serve Queenslanders well.”

“With that breadth of worldwide learning, Dr Farmer is also no stranger to Queensland having previously been the Medical Director of the Queensland Health Patient Safety Centre.  She has been instrumental as a leader of significant improvements across Queensland including “Ryan’s Rule”, which has gained international attention.”

“Dr Farmer is not only an accomplished medical and health leader, but she’s also an engaging and inspiring communicator.  I foresee her taking a key role in continuing to shape how we engage and harness the consumer and clinician voice in how we design and deliver services”.

Dr Farmer said she was humbled to return home having sharpened her medical experience on the worldwide stage.

“This is a key role, focussing on patient care and safety, improving efficiency in our hospitals and helping transform digital service delivery,” Dr Farmer said.

“It’s a big role that helps shape some of the core values we strive for in Queensland Health and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I grew up in Rockhampton and I’ve worked in Maryborough and Manhattan, in Laidley and Liberia. Wherever I go and wherever I work, I’m committed to helping clinicians help patients.

“I’m really looking forward to bringing that experience and that commitment back home to Queensland.”

Last updated: 9 April 2020