Oversight of contact tracing strengthened

  • Hon Dr David Clark

Minister of Health Dr David Clark has announced a Contact Tracing Assurance Committee (CTAC) to further strengthen oversight around a crucial piece of New Zealand's response to COVID-19. 

Dr Clark has announced Sir Brian Roche as inaugural chair of the CTAC, along with members Dr Philip Hill, Warren Moetara, Dr Marion Poore and Liz Read, 

"I am delighted with these appointments. The members will be well placed to advise the Government on the appropriateness of contact tracing capability in New Zealand. It's a well-balanced committee with outstanding skills and experience. 

"We've all recognised the ongoing efforts of the Ministry of Health and public health units in ramping up the on the ground response to contact tracing during the outbreak, such as standing up the National Close Contact Service and bringing in hundreds of additional staff to track and trace cases and contacts. 

"This new committee will advise me on how the Ministry is making further improvements to the tracing system, as recommended in Dr Ayesha Verrall’s audit report, including advice on any national changes required to strengthen national contact tracing. 

"Sir Brian brings extensive governance and management experience and a strong understanding of health system challenges as the former Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Group for Health and a member of the Health and Disability System Review. He also served as Chair of the New Zealand Transport Agency and as Chief Executive of New Zealand Post Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers New Zealand. 

"Dr Hill is a highly experienced medical practitioner with specialisations in public health and infectious diseases and separate qualifications in epidemiology and is the first holder of the McAuley Chair in International Health. 

"Mr Moetara (Ngāpuhi, Ngaitai, Te Whānau ā Apanui) has a demonstrated track record in delivering frontline public health and community services with and for Māori, and is a former police officer of 22 years. He brings a strong understanding of health equity, te ao Māori and tikanga. 

"Dr Poore is an experienced public health physician who has served as a Medical Officer of Health, a frontline primary care physician, and was a key member of New Zealand’s response to the SARS outbreak.

"Ms Read is a highly experienced public health nurse with extensive leadership, management and service delivery expertise across a range of roles at Hawke's Bay District Health Board. She is also the current Operations Lead for COVID-19 in the DHB’s Public Health Unit. 

"The establishment of this committee is another step to ensure we have a gold standard response to any future surge of COVID-19 cases.

“We recognised early that contact tracing would be a key line of defence in the battle against COVID-19. It is vital to identifying the source of any cases, containing them and preventing further spread.

“We've backed this with $15 million which went to PHUs in March for contact tracing. In April, Cabinet approved up to $55 million in additional investment.

“Alongside the hard work and dedication of the Ministry and PHUs, the Contact Tracing Assurance Committee will help provide additional oversight on how we are managing our capability around contact tracing, globally recognised as a key weapon against COVID-19," said Health Minister David Clark.

The appointments announced today are for one year.