Rotorua mayor and midwife Steve Chadwick was announced as chair-elect at last night’s formal parliamentary launch of the new Federation of Primary Health Aotearoa New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and health minister Dr David Clark joined 150 ministers, MPs and health leaders for the launch of the new ‘single voice for primary care”.

Clark said at the launch that primary health care was the foundation of the health system and he expected the Federation to an important contributor to the Government’s vision for collaborative, multi-disciplinary primary health care in New Zealand.

“This forum will allow all voices in the health system to be heard.”

The Federation’s establishment board chair Dame Annette King, in announcing her successor, said Chadwick was a former associate minister of health who had a major input into children’s health and tobacco policy in particular.

“She is a qualified midwife and passionate advocate for the role of primary care and reducing health inequalities.”

Chadwick said she was humbled to be asked to lead the “bold health initiative” and it was “very affirming” that a diverse group of health professional organisations had taken the step of forming the Federation.

“Nothing stays the same and we need to strategically plan and work together on how we face the big health issues that we must confront as a society.” She said she would take a pragmatic approach to finding new ways of working that reduce inequality and make access to healthcare easier – based on research and experience, including working with former health minister Dame Annette King.

The Federation is open for membership to all not-for-profit organisations with a primary health care focus.

The first formal meeting of the federation’s establishment board was held in April following a summit attended by 70 primary health care leaders including members of the existing primary health umbrella groups like the Primary Health Alliance, General Practice New Zealand, Health Care Aotearoa and the General Practice Leaders Forum as well as leaders from midwifery, allied health, nursing, medicine, NGOs and non-aligned PHOs.

King said she didn’t believe there had been this level of commitment and unity in primary health care in her living memory.

She earlier said there was a lot of work to be done to make the Federation to succeed as the single voice for primary care – but the good will and determination was there.

Banner image: Rt. Hon. Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister (left) and Hon. Steve Chadwick pictured at the launch on the Federation of Primary Health Aotearoa New Zealand in the Grand Hall at Parliament.

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