The National Rugby League (NRL) has completed a review and restructure of its medical department which will result in the NRL expanding the role and expertise available to the sport through its Medical Advisory Panel.
The expanded Medical Advisory Panel replaces a dedicated NRL Chief Medical Officer.
The NRL will engage a Medical Operations Manager to liaise between the clubs and the Medical Advisory Panel. As a result, Dr Paul Bloomfield will leave the business next month after six years in the role of NRL Chief Medical Officer. He will return to private practice as a Specialist Sport and Exercise physician and will continue to be involved in Rugby League.
Dr Bloomfield played a key role in creating and expanding the NRL’s head injury surveillance and concussion protocols. He also implemented many other medical protocols to enhance player safety and welfare.
“I want to thank all 16 clubs, especially the club doctors, for their support over the last six years, I believe the innovations we have implemented in all aspects of medical management, not just concussion, have significantly benefited player safety and welfare, and the game as a whole,’’ he said.
“We’ve taken enormous steps to implement protocols that reduce the risk of head injuries. I’m also extremely proud the NRL has linked with the University of Newcastle and Harvard University for one of the world’s largest studies into head injuries in collision sport, both for past and present players. The work done during this study will benefit generations to come.”
The game’s Medical Advisory Panel will be expanded to include specialist doctors in sports medicine, occupational health, neurology, and other disciplines as required. This will provide the NRL with access to more specialist physicians than was previously the case.
Head of Football Graham Annesley acknowledged Dr Bloomfield’s contribution to the game.
“Paul has worked in professional rugby league for almost 30 years, the past six of those as NRL Chief Medical Officer during a period of enormous change. His contribution to the game and the safety of our players has been outstanding and will have an enduring impact well into the future,’’ he said.
“Our expanded Medical Advisory Panel will provide us with access to additional medical expertise from a broader range of specialists to ensure we have immediate access to the best possible advice regardless of any medical issues that confront the game.”