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Executive Leadership team

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Southern DHB's Executive Leadership Team consists of executive managers based in Otago and Southland.

Chris Fleming, Chief Executive Officer

Chris was appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Southern DHB in January 2017 following a secondment to the role of Interim CEO from mid-September 2016.

Chris has worked in the health sector for the past 24 years, and has worked in a wide variety of roles including Chief Executive Officer (Nelson Marlborough and South Canterbury DHBs), Chief Financial Officer, General Manager Planning & Funding, General Manager Surgical & Ambulatory, and Director of Population Health, Planning & Performance.   These roles have spanned across New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

Chris is also the South Island representative on the National DHB Executive, Lead Chief Executive Officer nationally for Health of Older People, and the Lead CE for the South Island Child Health SLA and the South Island Palliative Care Workstream.

Chris was the co-sponsor for the National Aged Residential Care Service Review and for the current roll out of InterRAI into all Aged Residential Care facilities over the next four years. 

Professionally Chris is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants and the New Zealand Institute of Directors.

Jane Wilson, Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer

Jane Wilson

Jane was appointed to the role of Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer in August 2017.

Prior to this, Jane was Director of the Commissioner’s Office (since October 2015) and Director of Nursing Operations.  Jane has held a number of other nursing leadership positions across Southern DHB in the last 30 years, including clinical nurse specialist and educator roles, charge nurse manager, service manager and nursing director.






Julie Rickman, Executive Director Finance, Procurement and Facilities

Julie Rickman

Julie joined Southern DHB on 30 October 2017 for a one year fixed term appointment as Executive Director Finance, Procurement and Facilities.

Prior to this Julie was a Partner at PwC Otago for 5 years and has previously been Managing Partner of PwC Waikato and Partner at Beattie Rickman (which transitioned to PwC). Julie has also held roles as Franchisee Accountant, McDonald’s System New Zealand, and Audit Senior at Ernst & Young Auckland.






Lisa Gestro, Executive Director Strategy, Primary and Community

Lisa Gestro

Lisa has had an extensive career to date in health, including National Design and Delivery Lead for the Health of Older Persons Integration Programme for ACC, General Manager – Primary & Integrated Care at Counties Manukau District Health Board, Planning & Funding Manager at Auckland District Health Board, Change Manager Service Planning and Development in Ireland and a number of different roles at Southland DHB and Health Funding Authority in the Southern region. 






Kaye Cheetham, Acting Chief Allied Health, Scientific and Technical Officer

Kaye Cheetham

Kaye is the Southern DHB’s current Director of Allied Health in the Strategy, Primary and Community Directorate. Before that she worked as the Allied Health Scientific and Technical Professional Development Facilitator and was also the professional lead for Occupational Therapy. Kaye’s background is as an Occupational Therapist and she taught at the School of Occupational Therapy at Otago Polytechnic for 16 years.  

The Chief Allied Health, Scientific and Technical Officer role represents 24% of our workforce that includes 30 discrete professions each having their own professional identity, codes of ethics, practice competencies, workforce training and development needs. These workforces cover a range of health professions including regulated, self-regulated and unregulated staff.






Mike Collins, Executive Director People, Culture and Technology

Mike Collins

Mike joined Southern DHB in September 2016 as Executive Director Organisational Development and Performance and was appointed to the role of Executive Director People, Culture and Technology in August 2017.

Prior to moving to Southern DHB Mike was the Director of the Learning Environment and the Director of Service Excellence at Otago Polytechnic, where he worked for 16 years.

Mike has a passion for creating dynamic working environments and believes in a team culture aligned to values. Mike believes a successful organisation requires a clear strategy with innovative aspirations supported by people working within an empowering culture where staff own and enable the business values. One of the keys to success is to form a highly effective team by promoting efficient and transparent communications, focusing on the customer at the center of all decisions, creating a fun and enjoyable work environment and providing an on-going investment into staff education, knowledge transfer and mentoring.

‘Positive transformational change is possible, dream big, believe in yourself and the collective intelligence of those around you and anything is possible’.


Dr Nicola Mutch, Executive Director Communications

Nicola Mutch

Nicola joined Southern DHB in February 2016 as Director of Strategic Communications (retitled to Executive Director Communications in July 2017).

Prior to joining Southern DHB Nicola was the Marketing and Communications Manager at Otago Polytechnic and has also worked extensively for Amnesty International and the University of Otago, where she also gained a PhD in corporate social responsibility.






Dr Nigel Millar, Chief Medical Officer

Nigel Millar

Nigel joined Southern DHB in March 2016 as Chief Medical Officer.

Nigel had previously been Chief Medical Officer and physician at Canterbury DHB for just over ten years. During this time he participated in a transformational change to an integrated and connected health system.

A Geriatrician and Internal Medicine Physician by training – Newcastle UK – he moved to Christchurch in 1992.

During ten years as Clinical Director of the Older Persons Health Service he participated in the Elder Care Canterbury initiative which created a unified and coordinated aged care community plus a series of successful improvement initiatives.

Nigel has led from the front in championing the implementation of clinical information systems – most lately a common shared record across the health service.  The need for which was highlighted after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

As part of his work in aged care, Nigel has promoted the implementation of a standardised comprehensive assessment.  Consequently the InterRAI assessment protocol is standard across the country in the community and currently being rolled out in residential care.

Nigel is a member of the National Health IT Board, an advisor to the Health Quality and Safety Commission.  He is also the InterRAI Fellow for New Zealand and a director of the Health Round Table.

Nigel continues clinical practice in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics. 

Nigel is a committed lifelong cyclist and an advocate for active transport


Gail Thomson, Executive Director Quality and Clinical Governance

Gail Thomson

Gail has wide and varied experience of clinical governance, change management and efficiency programmes in the healthcare sector.










Patrick Ng, Executive Director Specialist Services
Patrick Ng

Patrick joined the Southern DHB in September 2016 from Nelson Marlborough DHB.

Before becoming a health executive, Patrick worked in chartered accountancy, the IT industry, oil and gas, outsourcing, electricity and gas, hospitality and telecommunications.


Gilbert Taurua, Chief Māori Health Strategy and Improvement Officer
Gilbert Taurua

Gilbert joined Southern DHB in November 2018. 

He came to the newly created role from New Zealand Drug Foundation where he has been the principal adviser, Tautāwhihia Kaua e whiu.

Working alongside Mr Taurua are Nancy Todd, taking up the role as Associate Māori Health Officer, Secondary/Tertiary – and Peter Ellison, the new Associate Māori Health Officer, Primary and Community, based at WellSouth PHO.






Hamish Brown, Project Director for the New Dunedin Hospital development.

Hamish Brown

Originally from Christchurch, Hamish worked overseas in Australia and the UK, then came back to New Zealand and worked clinically in ED as an ACNM in Christchurch Hospital.

He became involved in the Acute Services Building rebuild in Christchurch and then the Design Lab. After that he worked on the West Coast in an operational role where he became involved in their rebuild.