02 May 2011

Auckland Haematologist Dr Paul Ockelford will be the new Chair of the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) from tomorrow.

Dr Ockelford has been the Deputy Chair for four years. He takes over from Hawkes Bay General Practitioner Dr Peter Foley, who has served as Chair for an unprecedented two terms.

Dr Foley is very pleased to be passing the leadership of this important pan-professional organisation to such a respected and capable Auckland based specialist.

“The NZMA has maintained a high profile in guiding policy developments that lead to better care for patients, and consequently happier lives for our membership. This will now continue well under Paul’s new team,” says Dr Foley.

Meanwhile, Dr Foley is looking forward to increasing his new work with the NZ Health Quality & Safety Commission.

Dr Ockelford says that he will continue to build on the unity and strength of the medical profession to make progress on core health sector issues. “The NZMA will continue its focus on advocating for a dramatic improvement in the recruitment and retention of doctors so that our health system is able to deliver the treatments and health services our patients need.”

The NZMA is also making health inequalities a priority issue, as New Zealand performs very poorly in this area.

“The NZMA has formed a health inequalities sub-committee and has released a health equity position statement that strongly makes the case for a whole of government approach to address the health of our most vulnerable groups, such as children, Maori and Pacific peoples,” says Dr Ockelford.

Public health advocacy, especially in relation to measures to reduce alcohol and tobacco related harm, will also be top of the agenda to help lower the incidence of preventable illnesses.

Dr Ockelford says that in this election year the NZMA will be urging the Government even more strongly to implement nationally driven, consistent, coordinated approaches to health issues.

“This will ensure that health service delivery is more effective and equitable across the country. It requires greater Government leadership and less focus on individual DHB driven solutions.”

Dr Ockelford says he is honoured to begin his term at a time when the NZMA is also celebrating its 125thyear anniversary. “The NZMA has a long and proud history. It has a strong track record in advocacy and I look forward to building on its success into the future.”

Dr Ockelford, a graduate of the foundation class of the University of Auckland, is the Director of the Thrombosis Unit, Department of Haematology, Auckland Hospital heading a specialty team involved in the management of patients with clotting disorders and undertaking clinical research trials into new anticoagulant drugs. He is the Adult Director of the Haemophilia Centre at Auckland Hospital and a Clinical Associate Professor of Molecular Medicine and Pathology at the School of Health Sciences, at the University of Auckland. He is also Director of Clinical Services at Diagnostic Medlab Ltd.

Dr Mark Peterson, Taradale General Practitioner and Chair of the NZMA GP Council, is the NZMA’s new Deputy Chair.