It is with great sadness that we inform members of Tony Blacklers passing. Tony has been a member of the NZIHE for longer than anyone can acertain, and has served on the executive for many years, and as president. His contribution to the NZIHE is immeasurable, and he will be greatly missed by all. Our deepest sympathies go out to his wife Allison and daughter, Gillian, who have also served the NZIHE in various ways.
A memorial service will be held for Tony in Christchurch at a later date.
Tribute to Tony Blackler
First published in the Canterbury DHB CEO Update, 18 May 2020
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Tony Blackler on Monday 5 May.
He was 71 years of age.
Tony’s engineering career started with an aircraft avionics apprenticeship before he moved to the North Canterbury Hospital Board as an electronics technician and then as Assistant Engineer. In the 1980s the precision mechanical technicians came under his leadership and the name of the department changed to Technical Services.
As the clinical engineering lead for Canterbury DHB, Tony’s work included many aspects of the technology management of clinical equipment and its association with clinical service delivery.
He had many years involvement with standards development in the clinical engineering field and had been at the fore in clinical engineering activity at a national level.
Tony chaired South Island Alliance work group, the National Clinical Engineering Advisory Group and a New Zealand Standards coordinating committee.
He was awarded life membership of the New Zealand Institute of Healthcare Engineering and was Executive of the New Zealand Hospital Engineers Association.
Former Clinical Engineering Charge Technician Nigel Cross says from humble beginnings Tony had the vision to create Clinical Technologies supporting the clinical and procurement team into what it is today.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Clinical Engineer Gary Stevenson says Tony was instrumental in getting the first Infant Air Transport setup in New Zealand with the Air Force and Air New Zealand, transferring ventilated infants with heart problems.
In the early 2000s he was awarded one of the first Meritorious Service Awards for his involvement with standards development within the field of clinical engineering.
The Sterile Services Department was included under Tony’s management in the early 1990s and Tony also oversaw Mobility Services and Medical Illustration, leading a team of about 80 staff.
Tony was actively involved in the Territorial Army Brass Band and on school committees, serving as Treasurer at St Martins Primary School and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Linwood High School.
He was a board member of the Christchurch YMCA for many years, taught Business Management part time at the former Christchurch Polytechnic, served on the Board of Managers and Session of St Martins Presbyterian Church for 43 years and was a keen member of the Christchurch South Rotary Club.
Everything Tony strived for within health, whether it was improving national standards relating to electricity, Sterile Services, assisting Procurement or working with other DHBs, it was always driven by patient safety and care.
Tony completed 46 years at Canterbury DHB prior to his retirement in April 2019.
On his 40-year work anniversary, Tony said one of the best things about the job is the people he works with.
Tony Blackler –Eulogy from the New Zealand Institute of Health Care Executive Team
Tony Blackler was many things to many people, and we appreciate the privilege of sharing just a few. Tony was an Engineer; one of a special group of people with (mostly) logical thought patterns and the ability, and strong desire, to fix things and/or make things work properly. The “things” here also include organisations and committees Tony was a part of.
Tony was Husband and Life Partner to Allison. They made a formidable team, only strengthened by the Father, Mother, and Daughter bond with Gillian.
Tony was a leader with an ability to encourage others to step up to the challenge. Tony was seldom one to take a back seat and while he was an excellent member of the team, he was most often viewed as the ‘leader of the team’.
Tony began his working career as an Avionics Technician with the National Airways Corporation. After eight years in the aircraft industry he moved to the Health Service and, like a lot of us who have involved ourselves in Health Engineering, and more pointedly Clinical Engineering, Tony remained in that service until he retired from the Canterbury District Health Board in April 2019. Tony’s role on retirement was Manager of Clinical Engineering at Canterbury District Health Board, a role he had held for many years.
Tony has been active in the Clinical Engineering role nationally and internationally through his immediate work involvement and as a member of the New Zealand Institute of Healthcare Engineering (NZIHE) and the institute’s international affiliates.
Over the years Tony Blackler held all positions within the New Zealand Institute, having been a member of the NZIHE Executive since being elected to the Executive of the New Zealand Hospital Engineers Association (the originator of NZIHE) at their Annual General Meeting in November 1977.
The earliest record available of Tony Blackler as President is him listed as such in the March 1989 issue of the NZHEA Journal. The number of years Tony was on the Executive must be double any other Executive member or even triple. Out of the 43years Tony was a member of NZIHE nearly 90% of that time was spent on the Executive and during this time he held the position of President three separate times covering around 12 years.
Tony was passionate about the Institute and what it stood for, he spent hours and hours trying to improve the status of members, especially in the late 80’s and 90’s when the Crown Health Enterprise boards saw members being made redundant with little regard to the lasting effects, in the false hope of saving money.
Tony is well known through a long association between the Institute of Healthcare Engineering Australia (IHEA) and NZIHE, and he is remembered by many of the IHEA Board of Directors and members. Tony played a significant role asambassad or by developing and supporting the Australia New Zealand Exchange (ANZEX) Program which formed long term relationships between the two organisations. He was on the world stage as a Councillor for the International Federation of Hospital Engineers and was an Engineering Associates Registration Board member until stepping aside from active involvement at the end of 2018. In 2004 the NZIHE granted Tony Blackler life membership.
Involvement with Standards activity commenced with the Energy Safety Service and for a number of years Tony chaired the Electro-medical Coordinating Committee of Standards New Zealand. Tony received the Standards NZ Meritorious Service Award in 2000 for his involvement with standards development within the field of Clinical Engineering.
The Sterile Services Department was included under Tony’s management. In the early 1990s Tony also oversaw Mobility Services and Medical Illustration, leading a team of about 80 staff. Everything Tony strived for within health, whether it was improving national standards relating to electricity, Sterile Services, assisting Procurement or working with other DHBs, it was always driven by patient safety and care. Tony completed 46 years at Canterbury DHB prior to his retirement in April 2019. On the occasion of his 40th year work anniversary, Tony said one of the best things about the job has been the people he has worked with.
Tony has been an active participant in many voluntary and community organisations since his teenage years. He was actively involved in the Territorial Army Brass Band and on school committees, serving as Treasurer at St Martins Primary School and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Linwood High School. He has been a board member of the Christchurch YMCA for many years, taught Business Management part-time at the former Christchurch Polytechnic, served on the Board of Managers and Session of St Martins Presbyterian Church for 43 years and was a keen member of the Christchurch South Rotary Club, another organisation where he has served as president. Tony Blackler was a man who touched the lives of many people. Probably all of those people would agree that that touch had a positive effect on their lives. We will not forget the man that passionately guided the Institute successfully over many years. Tony Blackler, you will be missed. You will always be in our thoughts.
NZIHE Exec Team: