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Southern DHB Commissioner appoints two new deputies

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Southern DHB Commissioner Kathy Grant has announced the appointments of esteemed oncologist Dr David Perez and experienced health executive Jean O'Callaghan as two new deputies, to support the remainder of her term and the transition to a new board.

The appointments follow the loss of deputy commissioner Graham Crombie, who passed away unexpectedly in February. Dr Perez and Mrs O'Callaghan will join Richard Thomson as deputy commissioners.

Mrs Grant welcomed Dr Perez and Mrs O'Callaghan into their roles, saying their "exceptional experience and expertise" will be invaluable over the coming months.

"We are entering the final phase of our term as a commissioner team, and we are keenly focused on making sure the strategic developments and improvements that have been made are secure and able to be handed over successfully to the incoming board."

These include the system-wide transformation encompassed in the DHB and WellSouth's Primary and Community Care Strategy and Action Plan; the gains made in the 'Valuing Patients' Time' programme to improve patients' journey through the hospital system; the Southern Future work to help build a stronger organisational culture; and the progress in envisaging future ways of providing health care as we design the new Dunedin hospital, Mrs Grant said.

"All these efforts and more have been aimed at reorienting and strengthening the health system in the Southern district so that it is sustainable for the long term. We are now moving positively in this direction, and our priority over the coming months is to cement these strategies and changes to give the new board the best possible chance of success."

It had already been identified that a deputy commissioner with a clinical focus would be a valuable addition to the team at this time, Mrs Grant says.

"However, Graham's passing sadly interrupted this planning, and it became necessary to look more broadly at the skills needed across the team over this crucial period."

"We continue to feel the loss of Graham, and he cannot be replaced. However, David's greatly respected clinical voice and decades of experience at Southern, along with Jean's wealth of international organisational and health care experience, provide us with enormously valuable expertise and I am grateful for their willingness to step into these roles."

Elections for the Southern District Health Board will be held in October 2019, with the new board to formally assume their roles in December.

About the new deputy commissioners

Dr David Perez is well known for his distinguished career as an oncologist.

From 1984 until 2016 he was a consultant medical oncologist for the Southern DHB, and held academic roles as a senior lecturer and associate professor in Medicine with responsibility for medical oncology at the University of Otago. His research explored questions around quality of life following cancer treatments, the well-being of medical undergraduate students, medical education, and he oversaw numerous clinical drug trials. He became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2013.

From 2016 until 2018, Dr Perez chaired the Clinical Leadership Group, providing clinical input into the design process for the new Dunedin Hospital.

Jean O'Callaghan was the Chief Executive of Canterbury District Health Board from 2001-2005, followed by Chief Executive roles in the UK for the Bedford Hospital NHS Trust (2005-2010), Dorset County Hospital Foundation Trust (2010-2014), and Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust (2014-2016). A nurse by profession, she has also held senior strategy and planning roles with health authorities in Australia and elsewhere in New Zealand. Since retiring to Arrowtown in 2016, Mrs O'Callaghan has been involved in local activities including as a St John volunteer in the Queenstown-Lakes area.

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