Dr Curtis Walker was today elected chairperson of the Medical Council of New Zealand.
He succeeds Mr Andrew Connolly who has been the Council's chair since February 2014.
Announcing the appointment, the Council's chief executive, Joan Simeon said Dr Walker would bring “a tremendous depth of knowledge and experience” to the role, which would be invaluable to the Council in its role of protecting public health and safety.
Dr Walker was first appointed to Council in July 2015 following the Council’s election earlier that year and was subsequently re-elected in March 2018.
“Dr Walker’s sound experience and strong relationships within the health sector, particularly with Māori communities, will help Council with its important focus on improving the cultural competence of doctors to deliver culturally safe care to our communities, as well as the addressing inequities in the health sector,” Ms Simeon said.
Dr Walker also serves on the board of Te Ohu Rata o Aotearoa – Māori Medical Practitioners Association (Te ORA) – indicating his strong commitment to improving Māori health and to supporting doctors during the challenging years spent in specialist training.
Another key area of Dr Walker’s interest is strengthening recertification for medical specialists to help ensure doctors are up to date, competent and can plan and safely practise throughout their careers.
Formerly a veterinarian, Dr Walker retrained in human medicine and qualified from the University of Auckland School of Medicine in 2007. He started work as a house officer at Waikato Hospital where he began training in internal medicine before moving to Palmerston North and Wellington to complete his Fellowships in Nephrology and General Medicine (becoming a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians) in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
“A strong driver from me is to help the people in our community to achieve better health outcomes. The focus Council has placed on cultural competence and cultural safety is essential as part of our role to work with the health sector to address inequities,” Dr Walker said.
Dr Walker currently works as a renal and general physician at MidCentral District Health Board.
Ms Susan Hughes QC was elected deputy chair.