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NZNO welcomes new chief nurse

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) has welcomed the appointment of one of its former presidents, Jane O’Malley, as chief nurse. The Ministry of Health’s Deputy Director-General of Sector Capability and Innovation, Margie Apa, announced the appointment today and O’Malley, currently director of nursing and midwifery at West Coast District Health Board, will take up the position in late September.

Current NZNO president Nano Tunnicliff said O’Malley would bring a range of strengths to the position, at a crucial time for nursing and the health sector.

“As a former NZNO president, she is well aware of the professional and industrial issues nurses face in their working lives. She has worked in a range of nursing settings, including tertiary care, rural health and mental health, so will bring a broad perspective and thorough understanding of clinical nursing to the role. She also has a strong academic track record, having completed her masters degree in New York and her PhD at Victoria University,” Tunnicliff said. “At this time of major change in the health sector, it is vital there is a strong and credible voice for nursing in the Ministry.”

O’Malley has a sound understanding of the impact of government policy on nurses’ work and was a proactive leader of nurses during the health reforms, she said. “During particularly turbulent times in Canterbury in the 1980s and subsequently as NZNO president, she was never afraid to challenge health leadership to ensure the rights of patients and nurses were protected. That gives us confidence that the needs of nurses and those they care for will be paramount for her in her new role,” Tunnicliff said.

Congratulating O’Malley on her appointment, Te Runanga o Aotearoa NZNO kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku, said she looked forward to working closely with her to further build a sustainable Māori nursing workforce.

NZNO chief executive Geoff Annals said O’Malley was an excellent choice. “As the director of nursing and midwifery at the West Coast DHB, she is fully aware of the challenges facing the public and primary health sectors and is particularly cognisant of the problems surrounding rural health care delivery and the rural health workforce. The West Coast DHB is one of the demonstration sites for the work of the Safe Staffing Healthy Workplaces Unit, so O’Malley has also been intimately involved in finding solutions to the problems the sector faces.”

The role of chief nurse was a very significant one, not just for nursing but for the whole health sector. “Because of her wide ranging experience and credibility, we are confident in her ability to succeed in one of the most challenging leadership roles in health,” he said.


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