Queen’s Birthday honour for Icon Group CEO

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Icon Group CEO Mark Middleton has vowed to keep helping people after being awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the 2022 Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Mr Middleton was recognised for his significant contribution to cancer care during a 25-year career, particularly in regional Australia.

In 2007, he co-founded Radiation Oncology Queensland (ROQ), opening a radiation oncology facility in Toowoomba, where patients were previously travelling long distances into Brisbane for treatment. 

The centre increased access to cancer care for Toowoomba and the entire Darling Downs region and soon extended to more clinics in Queensland, followed by what would become the international Icon Group in 2016.

Mr Middleton said he had been surprised and delighted by the OAM award.

“It’s wonderful to be honest, and not something that I ever expected or even thought about,” he said.

“It’s an amazing feeling – I rang my wife, and I rang my Mum – and it’s been very special for our whole family.”

He said the OAM was great for Icon as well and had given him the chance to reflect on his career.

“I’m very fortunate to lead this team and there’s a lot of great work being done here, and I think – I hope – the OAM has resonated with the team here as well.

“It got me thinking about one of the first patients we ever helped," Mr Middleton added. 

“This person lived 10,000 kilometres west of anywhere and if it weren’t for our treatment centre in Toowoomba, they would have had to be in Brisbane for six weeks, or maybe would have declined treatment altogether.

“So that’s what I think about – that impact on patients, and families, and communities and how important that is. I always keep that in mind. 

“And actually, lots of people that we have helped in the past have reached out to congratulate me, and some of these people it was years ago, or you didn’t realise even that you did help them, so that’s been lovely.”

Mr Middleton's many career highlights include Icon being in the top 25 companies for Business Review Weekly, being state finalist in the 2014 Australian Institute Management (AIM) Queensland Manager of the Year, regional winner of the AIM Excellence Award in 2015, and finalist in CEO Magazine’s Executive of the Year in 2016 and 2019. 

He is also a director on the inaugural board of City Cancer Challenge (C/Can), an organisation that aims to improve cancer care in lower- and middle-income countries. 

In 2018 he personally started a scholarship in his family name, the Middleton Scholarship, supporting his lifelong passion for learning and mentoring, providing the next generation of healthcare leaders with professional development opportunities.

Radiation oncologist Professor Michael Poulsen, one of the founding doctors of Icon, said Mr Middleton’s contribution to healthcare had been extraordinary.

“From day one, the mission to help patients hasn’t changed and that is testament to Mark’s vision,” he said. 

“He and Icon have changed the face of cancer care and there is no doubt Icon will continue to bring more care to where it’s needed for many years to come.

“He is a remarkable healthcare leader deserving of such an honour.”

Mr Middleton said regional healthcare was “critical” to him after a childhood spent in Ballarat, Victoria.

“To have radiotherapy there now is something that’s really important to me – and not just Ballarat, but Gosford and Mildura, and all the other places,” he said.

“People have declined treatment due to lack of access in the past, and that’s something that’s really challenging for us as Australians. 

“I do think about that a lot, I think about my family – what if there was no cancer service in Ballarat? And up until 15 years ago, there wasn’t.”

He has been pleased to see telehealth come forward in leaps and bounds due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our own organisation has really encouraged patients and clinicians to embrace telehealth,” Mr Middleton said. 

“Our main concern during a global pandemic was keeping people out of waiting rooms – unless you’re there for treatment, stay home. 

“Now, we also shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that embracing that innovation and technology is not going to happen for everyone – there’s an older generation that have no capacity to connect that way, and we want to ensure that no-one is left behind.”

Mr Middleton said his only goal for the future was “more of the same”, as Icon seeks to consolidate its expansion to South-East Asia and grow internationally since agreeing a new investment deal late last year.

“My aim is just to continue to lead this wonderful team and pursue Icon’s global aspirations,” he said.

“There are so many people I could thank, including the 3,000 team members here at Icon who navigated a global pandemic with courage and resilience.

“My wife Susan has been on this journey with me, along with our children Ava and James – we’re a team, and I couldn’t do it without them.”

Other APHA member private hospital staff and clinicians recognised:

  • AO Professor Peter Choong (distinguished service to orthopaedics, education and professional associations) – St Vincents Private Hospital (Melbourne)
  • AM Dr Louis McGuigan (significant service to rheumatology and community health) - St George Private Hospital
  • OAM Dr Sathya Rao (service to psychiatry) – Delmont Private Hospital
  • OAM Prof Stephanie Watson (service to ophthalmology) – East Sydney Private Hospital
  • PSM Professor Ajay Rane (OAM- previous award) (outstanding public service to women’s health in Queensland) – Cairns Day Surgery, Cairns Private hospital (Ramsay Healthcare)
  • PSM Dr John Ferguson (outstanding service to NSW Health, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic) - Epworth Eastern
  • OAM Dr David Speakman (For service to medicine, particularly cancer treatment) – Mulgrave Private Hospital (Healthecare).
    Please let us know if a hospital representative has been missed so we can acknowledge them.

Read more: New deal to expand Icon’s cancer care globally

Read more: Australian-first lab aims to remove cancer care barriers

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