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Our Executive Leadership Team

The Hunter New England Health Executive Leadership Team consists of members from a variety of backgrounds who each has significant experience in managing public health services in NSW.

Michael DiRienzo

Mr Michael DiRienzo, Chief Executive of Hunter New England Health, is responsible for all services across the district from small rural community health centres to major tertiary referral hospitals. With over 17,000 staff and an expenditure budget in excess of $2.5 billion per annum, Hunter New England Health provides services to a community of more than 920,000 people across an area of 130,000 square kilometres.

Elizabeth Grist

Ms Elizabeth Grist, Executive Director, Clinical Services, Nursing and Midwifery, is responsible for assisting the Chief Executive to maintain an appropriately resourced, qualified and competent nursing and midwifery workforce. Ms Grist is also responsible for the Multicultural Health Unit, Infection Prevention and Control and the portfolios of Population Health and Performance and Planning. Ms Grist has the role of Health Service Functional Area Co-ordination with responsibility for coordination of health service response and disaster management.

Brendan Flynn

Dr Brendan Flynn, Executive Director, Hunter New England Mental Health Services, is a psychiatrist with subspecialty qualifications in Psychiatry of Old Age. With over 300 inpatient beds and an extensive community team network, the mental health service provides clinical treatment and care for people with serious psychiatric illness. The mental health service has a strong focus on quality improvement and is at the forefront of the use of clinical redesign strategies that are linked to improved quality of care and engagement with the community.

Lauren Cruz

Ms Lauren Cruz, Executive Director, Strategic Relations and Communication, is responsible for promoting the work, values and achievements of Hunter New England Health. Key functions of her team include media relations, digital media and developing and implementing communication strategies to support the work of the organisation. Ms Cruz's team also works closely with the organisation's community engagement groups.

Trish Davidson

Professor Trish Davidson, Executive Director of Medical Services is responsible for developing and leading medical services and workforce. The role has a focus on medical leadership, education and support; recruitment; patient safety and ensuring professional and ethical standards are maintained. This is achieved through a strategic focus on educating the existing workforce and medical students, as well as innovation and research in clinical practice. She has an operational focus on senior medical recruitment and workplace wellness and support, with a particular interest in ensuring gender balance for future medical leadership. Professor Davidson is responsible for medico-legal processes for medical professionals.

Melissa O'Brien

Ms Melissa O'Brien, Executive Director of Clinical Governance, is responsible for establishing, directing and managing the Local Health District (LHD) Clinical Governance function to promote and support patient safety and clinical excellence within health services. The Executive Director of Clinical Governance provides high level expert advice to the Chief Executive on all clinical governance issues and works collaboratively with other members of the LHD Executive to analyse, maintain and improve patient safety and clinical quality systems across the District.

Susan Heyman

Ms Susan Heyman, Executive Director, Rural and Regional Health Services, is responsible for directing and managing the services and facilities in rural and regional areas of the district, District wide Drug and Alcohol Service, Oral Health, Aged Care and Rehabilitation, Aboriginal Health, Violence Prevention and Care, Community Health Strategy. Ms Heyman is also involved in developing some of Hunter New England Health's Clinical Networks including Chronic Diseases, Aged Care & Rehabilitation Services and Hospital in the Home.

Tony Gilbertson

Mr Tony Gilbertson, Executive Director, Finance, is responsible for planning and reporting on the use of financial resources, monitoring of Hunter New England Health's budget performance including extensive management reporting to the Executive Leadership Team, Governing Council and NSW Health. Ownership and submission of statutory and professional reporting requirements of Hunter New England Health include addressing audit matters and ensuring appropriate financial management controls and practices.

Karen Kelly

Ms Karen Kelly, Executive Director, Greater Metropolitan Health Services, is responsible for directing and managing the effective and efficient planning and delivery of all acute clinical services in the metropolitan area - and making sure these services are aligned with the strategic priorities of Hunter New England Health and NSW Health. Ms Kelly is also responsible for ensuring integration within and across networks to help deliver quality health care and implement the Area Clinical Networks.

Chris Levi

Dr Chris Levi, Director of Learning Health Systems, John Hunter Health and innovation Precinct, is responsible for clinical leadership and guiding further collaboration and synergy between health care, research and innovation as the Precinct develops in coming years.  During the precinct development phase Dr Levi will lead the connecting of innovation, research and health care improvement, developing and enhancing systems that will bring people together in partnership to establish the Precinct as Australia’s first learning health system.

Kim Nguyen

Mr Kim Nguyen, Executive Director, Workforce and Allied Health, is responsible for providing professional, strategic and clinical leadership for Allied Health as well as workforce planning, development strategy and capability, human resources strategy, organisational change, learning and development across Hunter New England Health. Mr Nguyen also provides input from an allied health perspective into service planning, quality and safety programs.  Mr Nguyen is also responsible for directing the efficient and effective provision of occupational health and safety, human resource and employee/industrial relations services across the District.

Ramsey Awad

Dr Ramsey Awad, Executive Director, Infrastructure, Planning & Sustainability, is responsible for managing and delivering Clinical Planning, Capital Works, Engineering Maintenance and Sustainability for the Hunter New England Health District. He leads a team of managers and staff who deliver these integrated services and provides expert strategic advice to the Chief Executive.

Chris Mitchell

Mr Chris Mitchell, Executive Director, Information Communications & Technology is responsible for the delivery of safe, effective, efficient and connected information and communication technology for the District. This includes ICT strategy development and governance, service delivery, information security and privacy, project portfolio management, ICT infrastructure and application services.

Paul Craven

Dr Paul Craven, Executive Director, Children, Young People and Families, is responsible for providing strategic leadership in children's health across Hunter New England Health. The inclusion of this position in the Executive Leadership Team is in line with the NSW Kids Strategy, which aims to draw together overarching services and programs across the domains of paediatrics, child health, child protection and wellbeing, and young people's health to ensure services are delivered through a comprehensive and integrated model.

Leanne Johnson

Ms Leanne Johnson, General Manager, John Hunter Hospital, is responsible for directing and managing the effective and efficient planning and delivery of services at the John Hunter Hospital. She has a proven track record of developing high quality consumer-centred health care services that are inclusive and innovative. John Hunter Hospital is the major trauma and teaching hospital outside Sydney and remains one of the busiest hospitals in NSW. The hospital plays an important part in the state’s network of tertiary services. It also provides a retrieval service for critically ill patients from across the Hunter and North Coast regions.