HDC welcomes appointment of new Deputy Commissioners

Health and Disability Commissioner Morag McDowell welcomes the appointment of two new Deputy Health and Disability Commissioners.

 “I’m pleased to welcome Deborah James who has been appointed as Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner, Complaints Resolution, and Dr Vanessa Caldwell who has been appointed Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner,” says Morag McDowell.

Deborah James will commence her role on 23 August, and Dr Vanessa Caldwell will take up her role on 6 September.

“Both new Deputy Commissioners are exceptionally experienced and qualified to make strong contributions to upholding consumer rights at the HDC,” says Morag McDowell.

“Deborah James brings significant public sector leadership skills with a strong sense of social justice, including experience developing programmes that meet the needs of diverse communities.

“Dr Vanessa Caldwell brings extensive knowledge of the health system, with experience supporting partnerships with Māori in a range of health sector roles.

“I’m delighted they will be joining HDC to promote and protect the rights of people accessing health and disability services.

“They will work alongside existing Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner (Disability), Rose Wall, whose appointment has been extended.

“Rose Wall has extensive experience in decision-making regarding complaints, and excellent knowledge of the health and disability sectors. It’s wonderful to have her on board for a further two years.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank outgoing Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner, Kevin Allan, who is retiring in early September. Kevin has been a tireless champion for the needs of consumers using mental health and addiction services over the past five years and will be sorely missed,” says Morag McDowell.

The Deputy Health and Disability Commissioners are appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister of Health.

Both new Deputy Commissioners have been appointed for a term of five years, and Rose Wall’s appointment has been extended for two years.

Background on the Deputy Health and Disability Commissioners:

Deborah James joins HDC from her role as Sector Manager at the Office of the Auditor-General. She has significant public sector leadership skills and experience working with diverse communities, including as Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Auckland Council; setting up women’s psychosocial support centres in Sarajevo; and working with at-risk youth and their families in South Auckland. She has a law degree, MsC Econ (International Development Studies) and is a former Registered General and Obstetric Nurse.

Dr Vanessa Caldwell (Kāi Tahu, Te Rapuwai, Waitaha, Kati Māmoe) joins HDC from her role as Clinical Executive for Mental Health and Addictions at MidCentral DHB. She has strong experience working with consumer networks, iwi and government, in relation to mental health and addiction services, and has supported partnerships with Māori in a range of health sector roles. She is a Doctor of Health Science, has an MBA and is a trained psychologist.

Rose Wall has been Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner (Disability) since 2013. She is a trained nurse and has been involved in the public health system for most of her career. This has given her a broad insight into service quality, government strategy, the regulatory environment, and how the health and disability system works. Ms Wall has a natural desire to help people, particularly the more vulnerable who are less able to speak up for themselves.