CEO Panel discussion: The future of NZ’s Health system

2 min read
March 17, 2022

This webinar on the future of New Zealand’s health system was held on 29 March with a lineup of experts and leaders in the health insurance sector.

Professor Des Gorman has been involved in health reforms in a number of jurisdictions and set the scene with his views on the governments proposed transformation of our health system.

Then our panel of health insurer experts responded and shared their views on the future of our health system and implications for insurers and care providers.



  • Des Gorman MD PhD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The University of Auckland
  • Nick Astwick, CEO, Southern Cross Health Society
  • Louise Zacest, CEO, UniMed (Union Medical Benefits Society Ltd)
  • Thorsten Engel, Deloitte Healthcare Lead, Deloittes
  • Facilitator: Kerry Boielle, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at Southern Cross Health Society

Speaker bios:

Des Gorman MD PhD
Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The University of Auckland Des Gorman (Ngati Kuri and Ngapuhi) is an Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Auckland. From 2005 to 2010, he was the Head of the University’s School of Medicine. He has a BSc, MBChB and MD degrees from the University of Auckland, as well as a PhD from the University of Sydney. The two doctorates were awarded for in-vivo brain injury research. Professor Gorman’s non-clinical interests include health system design and funding, and health workforce planning and development. He has more than 300 publications. He is the Chairman of the Orangi Mahi Governance Group (the Ministry of Social Development’s health initiatives) and a member of the Ministry of Health’s Capital Investment Committee. His past roles include being a Director of the New Zealand Accident Compensation and Rehabilitation Corporation (2012-2018), the Executive Chairman of Health Workforce New Zealand (2009-2019), a member of the National Health Board (2009-2014) and of the Government’s welfare reform group (2009-2010).

Professor Gorman is currently involved in health reforms in a number of different jurisdictions. During his service in the Royal Australian Navy, he trained as both a submariner and as a diver.

Nick Astwick
CEO, Southern Cross Health Society
Nick joined the Society in 2017 on the back of a successful career with Kiwibank, where he was Chief Operating Officer for a number of years. Nick has more than 25 years’ experience in the financial services industry in various leadership and governance roles across retail and investment banking organisations. In addition to his CEO role, Nick is also a Director on a number of Southern Cross subsidiary Boards and, outside Southern Cross, is Chair of Leadership New Zealand

Louise Zacest
CEO, UniMed (Union Medical Benefits Society Ltd)
Louise Zacest is Chief Executive of UniMed, New Zealand’s specialist workplace health insurer. Along with the rest of the UniMed team, she is motivated by a genuine commitment to help keep working New Zealanders and their whānau in lifelong good health. Louise has more than 25 years’ experience in financial and health services, spanning insurance, banking, investment, and health service delivery across both the private and public sectors.

Thorsten Engel
Deloitte Healthcare Lead, Deloitte
Thorsten started his career in clinical medicine, before moving into information technology. This has provided him with an understanding of the healthcare sector that ranges from coal-face operations through to the boardroom and the role of Government. He is passionate about making innovative use of information systems that result in material improvements to the health and well-being of New Zealanders.
Thorsten has worked with healthcare providers, integrated delivery systems, government agencies, insurers and life sciences companies in the United States, Australia, and Europe and of course in New Zealand. He is passionate about bringing global Deloitte thought leadership and lessons learnt from his international colleagues and Deloitte’s clinical network into the local New Zealand market. Thorsten has been heavily involved in building digital platforms to combat COVID as well as our national screening programme.

About FSC Connect:

FSC Connect webinars are an online resource for members of the financial services community, designed to discuss and stimulate conversation on key issues, themes and topics affecting New Zealanders and financial services professionals.