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I am delighted to announce that Dunedin oncologist Dr David Perez and former Canterbury DHB CEO Jean O’Callaghan will be joining me and Richard Thomson as deputy commissioners, following the loss of deputy commissioner Graham Crombie who passed away unexpectedly three months ago.
We are now entering the final phase of our term as a commissioner team, and our key focus is 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.
All these efforts and more have been aimed at reorienting and strengthening the health system in the Southern district, and our priority over the coming months is to cement these changes to give the new board the best possible chance of success.
We had already identified that a deputy commissioner with a clinical focus would be a valuable addition to the team at this time. However, Graham’s passing sadly interrupted this planning, and forced us 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.
Finally, this week brought great celebration of our largest workforce, with International Nurses’ Day and the Nursing Excellence Awards. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners, and indeed all our nurses, who do an incredible job every day. The difference you make through the care you provide when people are at their most valuable is absolutely humbling, and we sincerely thank you all!