COVID-19 is a test like no other for health services, and the response by health care providers in the Southern region highlights what can be achieved by working together.
That’s the view of incoming Alliance South chair, Stuart Heal, who will assume the leadership role at the next meeting of the Alliance Leadership Team in mid-June.
“Health services response to COVID-19 in this region has proven very effective,” says Stuart, commending Southern DHB, its public health team, WellSouth PHO, general practice teams and community pharmacies for their contributions.
“We have a remarkable health workforce and what we’ve seen of late is not only a willingness to work together but also to do things differently.”
Delivering some care by virtual or telehealth is just one example, he says, adding that it shows that patients, as well as health workers, are open to change.
Keeping the momentum of change going is likely to be a key feature of the work carried out by Alliance South and health services in the coming months and years to realise the vision of a southern health system.
Stuart says he sees the role of Alliance South as supporting the main players in health services – WellSouth PHO, general practices, Southern DHB and Public Health South - to coordinate and work together as one health service for the benefit of the people of Otago and Southland. He takes over the role from Dr Carol Atmore, who is the Head of Department, School of General Practice and Rural Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine.
“I admire the work that Alliance South has done and I look forward to working alongside the team to continue to improve the delivery of health care services in the South,” he says.
Based in Cromwell, Stuart was born and brought up in Dunedin and has spent most of his career working in Otago and Southland. He is the chair of Breen Construction, Road Transport Logistics, Pioneer Energy and Pulse Energy. He served as chair of New Zealand Cricket from 2012 to 2016 and was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Sport and the Community in 2016.
Stuart is a current board member and past chairman of WellSouth (he will step down next month to assume to Alliance role) and before that was chair of the Rural Otago PHO. Prior to dedicating himself to governance roles, Stuart was the chief executive of CRT for 20 years.
“Stuart has made an invaluable contribution to WellSouth and primary care services in the district. His knowledge and breadth of experience in many fields means he has perspective that the health sector can benefit from,” says WellSouth Chief Executive Andrew Swanson-Dobbs.
Southern DHB Chief Executive Chris Fleming also welcomes Stuart into the role at this pivotal time.
“The past few months have tested us all, but have also demonstrated what can be achieved through our partnership and shared goals as the Southern Health system. We look forward to deepening these conversations through the Alliance, and thank Stuart for taking on an important role in this.
“I also want to thank Carol for her leadership and contributions over the past years.”
About Alliance South
In the Southern district, Alliance South is the partnership between Southern DHB and WellSouth primary health network, overseeing the implementation of the Primary and Community Care Strategy. Its aim is to promote better integration of health services to improve the health and well-being of people and communities across the Southern district. The Alliance Leadership Team guides the work of Alliance South.
Healthcare alliances were established in all health districts across the country in 2013 to help DHBs and primary health organizations (PHOs) to better work together and promote a 'one health system' view for the delivery of health care services.