Dr Nick Jones: Hawke’s Bay doctor lands top job at Ministry of Health

Dr Nick Jones has been appointed the new director of public health at the Ministry of Health. Photo / NZME

A Hawke’s Bay doctor and health executive who helped lead the response to the deadly Havelock North campylobacter outbreak in 2016 has landed a top job with the Ministry of Health.

Dr Nicholas Jones was announced on Monday as the new director of public health at the NZ Ministry of Health.

Dr Jones has worked for the Hawke’s Bay DHB since 2009 and is the current clinical director and medical officer of health at the DHB and will join Manatū Hauora (the Ministry of Health) on August 15.

He will take over the role from Dr Caroline McElnay who resigned this year after holding the position for five years. Dr McElnay also previously worked for the Hawke’s Bay DHB.

The director of public health is one of top positions within the Ministry of Health and, during the Covid pandemic, Jones will work closely with the director-general of health, a position currently filled by the outgoing Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

“I’m pleased to announce that Dr Nicholas Jones will take the role of director of public health, which is so important to the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders,” Dr Bloomfield said.

“Dr Jones is very well-respected in the health sector, and he brings considerable experience and knowledge with him.”

The director of public health is a key statutory role providing public health leadership across the Public Health Agency and the National Public Health Service within Te Whatu Ora (Health New Zealand), and provides professional support and oversight for medical officers of health.

Hawke’s Bay DHB interim district director Andrew Boyd congratulated him on the role and confirmed his last day at the DHB would be August 12.

“We wish Dr Jones all the best as he takes on this national role and we know the future of public health in New Zealand will be in good hands under his leadership.”

A replacement for Dr Jones at the DHB will be released “once finalized”, Mr Boyd confirmed.

Dr Jones has worked in public health for more than 30 years.

In November 2020, Dr Jones was awarded a New Zealand Public Service Medal Award for his exceptional contribution to health in Hawke’s Bay.

He led the health response to the Havelock North campylobacter outbreak, co-chaired the Healthy Housing Coalition, provided leadership and expert advice on environmental health issues such as water regulation, and more recently was pivotal to Hawke’s Bay’s Covid-19 response.

Dr Jones is also part of the DHB executive leadership team.

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