Chief advisors

Chief advisors are recognised leaders in their fields and have extensive experience across policy and strategy formation, implementation and management, as well as clinical or health professional practice.

Chief advisor profiles

Dr John Crawshaw, Director and Chief Advisor of Mental Health

Dr Crawshaw took up the position of Director and Chief Advisor of Mental Health in November 2011. He is the Government’s principal advisor on Mental Health and is responsible for fulfilling several key statutory functions. He has extensive experience in a range of Mental Health services gained from working in the health system in both Australia and New Zealand.

Previous to this role John was CEO of Statewide and Mental Health Services in Tasmania, Australia where his responsibilities included overseeing Tasmania’s state-run Mental Health Services, Forensic Health Services (incorporating Forensic Mental Health and Correctional Primary Health Services), Alcohol and Drug Services and the Health and Well Being Services (Oral Health Services and Cancer Screening and Control). He was also the Chief Forensic Psychiatrist at the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services.

John has also held various senior management roles at Capital Coast Health including Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, General Manager (Mental Health Elderly & Disability Services) and Strategic Advisor to the Chief Executive.

He is a graduate of Otago Medical School and his academic background has included being a Senior Lecturer in Psychological Medicine at Wellington School of Medicine and Senior Psychiatric Registrar at Otago University Medical School. He is a member of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists General Council and has served on a number of boards, councils and committee of professional bodies. His current activities include being chair of the RANZCP Board of Education.

Matafanua Hilda Fa’asalele, Chief Advisor – Pacific Health

Matafanua Hilda Fa’asalele took up the role of Chief Advisor Pacific Health at the end of 2012. Her role is varied, but is primarily responsible for leading and contributing to Pacific health policy, strategy and supporting the development and capability of Pacific Health Providers and Pacific Workforce development across the Ministry and health sector.

She began her health career as a Registered Nurse at Auckland Hospital, and went on to work in Well Child Health, which she considers the best education and foundation for working in primary health care for understanding the needs of families.

With 30 years of experience in nursing, well child health, health auditing, evaluation, tertiary education, she moved into senior leadership roles in health management, including National Pacific Services Development Manager in Plunket, Nurse Leader for NZ’s first Pacific PHO TaPasefika in Auckland. Prior to the role in the Ministry, she was the General Manager for Pacific Health at Auckland DHB.

Hilda was given the Samoan chief matai title of Matafanua in 2014 from her father’s village of Falevao in Samoa. As a New Zealand born Pacific woman, this is a huge responsibility and one which she considers an honour as she works to improve the well-being of Pacific people.

Dr Peter Jones,  Chief Advisor – Community Health Service Improvement

Peter Jones is from a Wellington family but grew up in London and trained in medicine and rheumatology in the UK. From 1995 he worked at QE Hospital for Rheumatic Disease and Rehabilitation in Rotorua as part of a multidisciplinary team, and from 2003 became a clinical academic at Auckland University.

He moved to the Waikato Clinical School based in Hamilton in 2010 and joined the Ministry in 2013. Peter has a passion for teaching and has held leadership roles in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education in his University role and with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

He has particular clinical and research interests in musculoskeletal pain, disability, and gout. He has been closely involved with clinical pharmaceutical development and has been involved in clinical advisory roles at PHARMAC and MedSafe. Peter remains in clinical practice and lives in Wellington with his wife, a GP, and their family.

Dr Fran McGrath, Chief Advisor – Long Term Conditions

Dr Fran McGrath is a specialist public health physician with considerable experience and a Masters in Public Policy. She was previously the Deputy Director of Public Health and a key advisor on emergencies such as infectious disease outbreaks, notably the 2009 Influenza Pandemic, and the health impacts of contaminated environmental sites.

Fran has extensive experience in public health, public policy and senior management in many different parts of the health sector including as senior health advisor to a number of Ministers of Health, has represented New Zealand at meetings of the World Health Assembly, and at Regional Committee Meetings of the Western Pacific Region of WHO, and been engaged as an expert advisor for WHO advisory committees. She previously worked in developing countries including Central America, Thailand, and in the Cook Islands’ Ministry of Health. Earlier in her career she worked as a GP, medical practitioner in Women’s Health collective and in community development in rural and high need areas in New Zealand, and as a medical volunteer in Honduras. 

Fran has a farming background, did her medical training at Otago University in Dunedin and post-graduate study in Wellington. She has managed policy, national reform programmes, and health sector evaluation in many parts of the health sector. She has continued to be active as a honorary lecturer, in public health professional bodies, leadership and governance roles, including in Oxfam New Zealand.

John D. Potter, Chief Science Advisor

Professor John Potter began his appointment as Chief Science Advisor to the Ministry of Health in January 2016.

John’s role at the Ministry sees him bring a fresh perspective to the way science is used and viewed in relation to policy, as well as encouraging increased engagement with other government agencies, universities, crown research institutes, and the wider health sector.

Outside the Ministry, John has a distinguished career in research primarily aimed at understanding the risk and biology of colorectal, breast, and pancreatic cancers, developing biomarkers for screening and early detection, and monitoring cancer progression in high-risk individuals. His major areas of interest and expertise include the relationships between food, nutrition, and physical activity and the risk of cancer and chronic disease more generally.

Most recently, he has worked at the Centre for Public Health Research of Massey University, Wellington. He also serves as a Member and Senior Advisor to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and as Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology, University of Washington School of Public Health & Community Medicine, both in Seattle, Washington. He is Adjunct Professor at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch.

Among a number of international awards in both cancer research and nutrition research, in 2012 he received the Medal of Honour of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France.

Andi Shirtcliffe, Chief Advisor – Pharmacy

Andi has a background in community pharmacy both here and in the UK and owned her own pharmacy for 5 years. Andi is currently the Chief Advisor for Pharmacy for the Ministry of Health New Zealand. Recent work experience includes writing, training and assessing for the New Zealand College of Pharmacists and the intern pharmacist programme, membership of the Ministry of Health’s Medicines Classification Committee and joint project manager on the Framework for Pharmacist Services project for the DHBNZ (now CentralTAS).  

Andi has also advised the Nursing, Pharmacy and Podiatric Council on their prescribing medicines schedules. She has extensive governance experience with the Pharmacy Council and New Zealand College of Pharmacists, of which she was the Deputy Chair, and board member of the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand. Andi was a member of the Australian Pharmacy Council’s Accreditation Committee and holds an honorary lectureship at the Auckland University School of Pharmacy.

Andi’s areas of special interest are in multiple morbidity/polypharmacy, medicines management and dementia care. She has worked in a number of medicine management roles in high deprivation areas, primary care settings, and community pharmacy and latterly in residential care facilities. Her current clinical work is as a clinical advisory pharmacist at a psychogeriatric hospital.

Dr Amanda Smith, Director ID(CC&R) and Chief Advisor – Disability Services

Dr Amanda Smith took up the position of Chief Advisor, Disability, Director, ID(CC&R) Act in January 2014. She is the Government’s principal advisor on the development and implementation of the ID(CC&R) Act and the High and Complex Framework of supports. She oversees the various statutory functions and functionaries that operate under the Act.

Amanda is a registered social worker who has been working in the Health and Disability field for the last 20 years in a variety of senior roles in mental health, disability and rape education and prevention. For the last 10 years she has fulfilled various roles under the ID(CC&R) Framework. She has also recently completed research looking at the experiences that care recipients have whilst under the ID(CC&R) Act and has been awarded a Doctorate in Health Science.

Dr David St George, Chief Advisor – Integrative Care

Dr David St George’s role is to provide professional leadership, direction and advice on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and on the integration of CAM with conventional health care, particularly in the area of primary care and chronic care conditions.

David has a degree in medicine from Auckland Medical School, and a degree in epidemiology from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

After completing medical specialty training in public health medicine, he worked for a decade in the Royal Free Hospital in London as a consultant clinical epidemiologist specialising in hospital quality assurance. He later took up the position of Director of Research and Clinical Effectiveness at Southampton University Hospital.

While working in the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, David became increasingly involved in the CAM sector there. He helped set up the Prince of Wales’ Foundation for Integrated Health and was their first Director of Research. He also helped a number of CAM organisations in the UK develop their research strategies.

As a visiting academic, David helped Middlesex University set up an undergraduate degree in traditional Chinese medicine. He was research committee chairman of the Scottish School of Herbal medicine for a decade, and has been a visiting professor on complementary medicine at the University of Central Lancashire since 2004. He was also a member of the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board.

David joined the Ministry in June 2006 as Senior Advisor for Quality. Previously, he was Group Manager for Quality at Auckland District Health Board.

Dr Pat Tuohy, Chief Advisor – Child and Youth Health

Dr Pat Tuohy is a specialist paediatrician with a particular interest in community child health. Pat has been the Ministry's Chief Advisor Child and Youth Health since December 1997. His responsibilities include provision of specialist child and youth health advice to the Ministry and other Government agencies, coordination and leadership of child and youth health across district health boards and child and youth health professionals and organisations.

Pat initially qualified in Biochemistry at Victoria University, Wellington, and then went on to his medical studies at the Otago Medical School, qualifying MB.ChB in 1979. Postgraduate training in Paediatrics was undertaken in Wellington, Melbourne and Nottingham. On his return to New Zealand he worked as a General Paediatrician in New Plymouth for 3 years and joined the Plunket Society in 1991 as its Regional Paediatrician based in Wellington. Pat was later appointed to the position of National Paediatrician for Plunket, until his move to the Ministry in 1997.

Pat has worked in a range of clinical and academic posts, has chaired or served on a range of international, RACP and New Zealand Government committees and working groups, and has for the last 10 years supervised a Registrar rotation through the Ministry of Health. For the last 7 years Pat has had the role of the National Immunisation champion for the ‘Improving Coverage’ immunisation target. Pat’s particular interests are in the areas of developmental and behavioural paediatrics, SUDI prevention, immunisation and child protection.

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