29 November 2011

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) today awarded David Meates the NZMA’s highest standing award for leading the Canterbury District Health Board, in its response to the earthquake in February.

The NZMA Chair’s Award goes to an individual or organisation that has made a substantial contribution to the health of New Zealanders, either throughout the current year or over a given period of time.

“As CEO of the Canterbury District Health Board, David Meates demonstrated exemplary leadership in a time of uncertainty and upheaval,” says NZMA Chair Dr Paul Ockelford. “He mobilised the huge response effort across the Canterbury health sector. He has understood the effectiveness of a collective, coordinated approach to healthcare delivery in such a challenging time – not just in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake with the loss of lives and severe injury but beyond, as the sector has worked to maintain and enhance health services in the Canterbury region.”

Dr Ockelford says that Mr Meates’ leadership is based on his belief that the best health care systems are based on genuine collaboration and partnership.

“We saw what can be achieved when the skills of our health sector are harnessed by working together. Both the primary and secondary care sectors worked together, and we also had health care teams from throughout the country providing much needed assistance, including the transfer of patients to hospitals outside the region and free consultations at GP clinics.”

“This collaborative, integrated approach to health care ensured that patients had the best possible treatment and continuity of care.”

David Meates has many years of experience working in health and has worked in both the private and public sectors, in New Zealand and in the UK. He has been involved on a number of national groups focussing on issues such as workforce negotiations and CEO alliances.

He has said that he is passionate about health and what can be achieved when people grasp the vision and work collectively for the greater good. 

“David has demonstrated leadership throughout his career but it is often said that the true test of leadership is how one responds in a crisis. In Christchurch, David and the Canterbury District Health Board succeeded in developing and putting in place effective and robust recovery plans in a time of crisis,” says Dr Ockelford.

“With the Chair’s Award the NZMA wishes to acknowledge David’s personal contribution to ensuring health services were readily available, and of a high quality, to those who needed them. It is also a testament to the high calibre of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, to those employees within the Canterbury DHB, who showed such dedication and professionalism, even when they were personally affected by the earthquake.”

“We have seen the best of New Zealand’s health services in responding to the health needs of Cantabrians following the earthquake.”

Dr Ockelford says that this leadership has had a positive impact for the health of so many in the Canterbury region and it is envisaged that the response will influence future health care models in this country, for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

David is also the CEO of the West Coast District Health Board and is responsible for the health services of over 550,000 New Zealanders, and the leadership of over 9,500 direct employees and thousands more NGO health sector workers contracted by the DHB.