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Stella Ward joins exodus of senior execs at Canterbury DHB

Thursday, 20 August 2020  
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Picture: Stella Ward, chief digital officer at Canterbury and West Coast DHBs editor Rebecca McBeth


Stella Ward, chief digital officer at Canterbury and West Coast DHBs and one of New Zealand’s most highly visible and regarded digital health leaders, has resigned.

She is one of seven senior executives at Canterbury DHB to resign since July, amidst rising tension between the board and executive management team over budget cuts to reduce CDHB's $180 million deficit.


Other resignations include chief executive David Meates, chief people officer Michael Frampton and funding and decision support executive director Carolyn Gullery, all keen supporters and enablers of the DHB’s digital transformation journey.

Canterbury DHB is well-known as a hot-spot for digital innovation and is a lead partner in the South Island Alliance, which has implemented South Island-wide clinical systems such as shared record system healthOne and clinical portal Health Connect South.


Ward has recently been announced as a finalist in this year's CIO Awards for 'CIO of the Year'.

In a comment for , she says that ,“investment in digital tools and the use of high-quality data to inform future service delivery are key enablers for an integrated health system that delivers the best outcomes for people and in providing the best possible care. 
“I believe those principles are now part of an established culture at Canterbury and the West Coast DHBs - and I have a strong team who will continue to focus on the delivery of that vision. 

“I am confident that with our excellent people and our reputation for innovation and world-class care, Canterbury and West Coast DHBs will attract a high-calibre leader to take that vision forward,” she says.

HiNZ board chair,Rebecca George says the departure of Ward will, “leave a yawning gap in the drive and momentum that has seen the CDHB develop and integrate digital innovations across the health system. 

George, who is on sabbatical from her role as clinical lead for allied health informatics at Canterbury DHB, says Ward’s engagement with clinical leaders has “provided opportunities to effectively implement systems that have improved clinical workflows and benefited our patients health journey.

The impact of Ward’s vision is underpinned by the focus the CDHB gave to the ‘whole of system’ approach to healthcare across the region. 

“This approach significantly influenced the development of systems and provided the opportunity to influence the health journey of a patient across the community,” she says. 

“This highlighted the complexities faced by many patients negotiating their journey and in turn supported the staff to identify digital methods towards simplifying it for them.

“The future is uncertain, however the digital foundation and clinical leadership remains strong. They will look to ensure that the progress continues to benefit the community as they seek to discover what is over the horizon.”

Ward has been a regular speaker at HiNZ conferences and contributor to via comments and columns, with her latest focused on how technology acts as an enabler during a pandemic

Canterbury’s DHBs intensive digital transformation programme is also detailed in eHN’s feature section and a recent Microsoft Industry Article on Creating resilience through cloud technologies.


If you would like to provide feedback on this news story, please contact the editor Rebecca McBeth.


This story was updated on September 3.

Read more news:

Creating resilience through cloud technologies
CIO Interview: Technology as an enabler during a pandemic

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