Ashley Bloomfield

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Ashley Bloomfield
Ashley Bloomfield at Frances Clarke Memorial Awards 2020.jpg
Bloomfield in 2020
Director-General of Health
In office
11 June 2018 – 29 July 2022
Preceded byChai Chuah
Personal details
Born
Ashley Robin Bloomfield

1965/1966 (age 56–57)
Napier, New Zealand
SpouseLibby (M. 1990)
Children3
Alma materUniversity of Auckland
OccupationPublic health official

Ashley Robin Bloomfield[1] (born 1965/1966) is a New Zealand public health official. He is the chief executive of the Ministry of Health and the country's Director-General of Health. He has been the public-facing health specialist liaising with the media during the COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand on behalf of the government, since the first press conference on 27 January 2020. He stepped down from his role at the Ministry of Health at the end of July 2022.

Early life and family[edit]

Bloomfield was born in Napier[2] in 1965 or 1966, one of three children of Allan Olaf Bloomfield and Myreine Alice Bloomfield (née Osborne).[3][4][5] His mother was a schoolteacher, while his father was a lieutenant colonel in the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (Territorial Force) and a manager at Mitsubishi Motors in Porirua, and was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 1974 New Year Honours.[3][4][6]

Bloomfield grew up in Tawa, a suburb of Wellington, and was educated at Scots College, where he was head prefect,[3] dux, played 1st XV rugby[7] and was a member of the cast of the college's production of Oklahoma![8]

Bloomfield graduated Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Auckland in 1990.[1][3] About the same time, he married his wife, Libby, also a doctor, and the couple went on to have three children.[3]

Career[edit]

Bloomfield completed several years of clinical work and from 1996[9] specialised in public health medicine,[10] concentrating on non-communicable diseases.[11][12] In 1997, he graduated from the University of Auckland with a Master of Public Health degree, with first-class honours.[13]

Between 2004 and 2006, Bloomfield was the Ministry of Health's acting director of public health.[14][15] From 2006 to 2010, he was the ministry's chief public health adviser.[9]

Ashley Bloomfield being interviewed by the press after the 2020 Parliamentary rugby match (children in the background are holding up large home-made posters that say "THANK YOU DOCTOR BLOOMFIELD")
Bloomfield after the 2020 Parliamentary rugby match
Bloomfield (right) elbow bumps with Michael Holdsworth at Government House, Wellington, in October 2020, while Dame Patsy Reddy and Sir David Gascoigne look on

From late 2010 to late 2011, based at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Bloomfield worked on non-communicable disease prevention and control with a global focus.[11] From 2012 to 2015, he held leading positions across district health boards with Capital & Coast District, Hutt Valley, and Wairarapa. From 2015 to 2018, Bloomfield was chief executive at Hutt Valley District Health Board.[16] In the first half of 2018, Bloomfield was seconded to the Capital & Coast District Health Board where he was interim chief executive. Since 11 June 2018, he has been the chief executive of the country's Ministry of Health and the country's Director-General of Health.[1][3][11] Since he started as the ministry's Chief Executive he has attended a leadership programme at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford.[9]

Colleagues describe Bloomfield as "measured, methodical, calm and sensible".[9] Former health reporter Tess Nichol, writing for the American online magazine Slate, described him as "New Zealand's current obsession, an unlikely heartthrob, a mild-mannered health care hero".[17] Former prime minister, Geoffrey Palmer, remarked about Bloomfield: "It is a long time since a public servant has become so well-known."[18] Perhaps in part due to the relative effectiveness of the COVID-19 measures taken by the New Zealand Government, Bloomfield has developed a cult following.[19] Facebook pages and merchandise have been created celebrating Bloomfield, and at least one person has had his image tattooed on their body.[20][21][22] When Bloomfield played for an invitational Centurions side in their 2020 rugby match against the Parliamentary team, children took placards to the game to support him. Bloomfield chose the nickname "The Eliminator" for the match, in which he opened the scoring with the first try.[23][24][25]

In November 2020, Bloomfield was named one of the best-dressed men on David Hartnell's best-dressed list.[26]

In August 2021, Bloomfield apologised to the New Zealand Parliament's health select committee for providing them with incorrect information about a United Nations worker from Fiji who later tested positive for COVID-19.[27]

In early April 2022, Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes announced that Bloomfield would step down as Director-General of Health on 29 July 2022.[28]

In late July 2022, Bloomfield ordered 14 territorial authorities including the Auckland Council, Hastings District Council, New Plymouth District Council, Rotorua Lakes District Council, Tauranga City Council, Waitaki District Council, Far North District Council, and the Whangarei District Council to add fluoride to their water supplies. These local authorities have between six months and three years depending on the circumstances to ensure that their water supplies are fluoridated. He stated that this measure would boost the number of the New Zealand population receiving water fluoridation from 51% to 60%.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Wai 2575, #A59" (PDF). Waitangi Tribunal, Department of Justice. 7 September 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  2. ^ Hyde, Sahiban (20 May 2020). "Covid 19 coronavirus: Ashley Bloomfield stuns boy, 6, with handwritten response to letter". Hawke's Bay Today. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Fisher, David (11 April 2020). "Ashley Bloomfield's rise to the top – the inside story". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Allan Bloomfield death notice". The New Zealand Herald. 15 February 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  5. ^ "Bloomfield–Osborne". Hawke's Bay Photo News. Vol. 3, no. 5. April 1961. p. 15. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  6. ^ "No. 46163". The London Gazette (2nd supplement). 1 January 1974. p. 36.
  7. ^ "Covid-19 coronavirus: Inside Dr Ashley Bloomfield's work and family bubble". The New Zealand Herald. 7 May 2020. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  8. ^ Barton, Monika (31 August 2020). "Hilary Barry shares photo of teen Ashley Bloomfield performing in 1983 school production of Oklahoma!". Newshub. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d Macdonald, Nikki (7 March 2020). "Coronavirus: Ashley Bloomfield is the face of NZ's virus defence". Stuff. Retrieved 18 March 2020. After taking the job – and after attending a leadership programme at Oxford University – Bloomfield said he subscribed to a 'convene and collaborate' and 'ensuring direction not giving direction' model of leadership, rather than command and control.
  10. ^ "Cometh the hour…". Otago Daily Times. 21 March 2020. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  11. ^ a b c "Introducing Ashley Bloomfield". Ministry of Health. 13 June 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  12. ^ Thomas, Rachel (28 March 2020). "The face of the Covid-19 response: Who is Ashley Bloomfield?". The Spinoff. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  13. ^ "Graduation search results". University of Auckland. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  14. ^ Kiriona, Renee (28 April 2004). "Check for Sars symptoms, doctors told". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  15. ^ Errol, Kiong; Johnston, Martin (18 January 2006). "Bird flu campaign to target 1.4m households". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  16. ^ "Dr Ashley Bloomfield: Director-General of Health and Chief Executive". Ministry of Health Manatū Hauoa. New Zealand Government. 25 November 2019. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  17. ^ Nichol, Tess (6 April 2020). "The extremely competent, somewhat boring civil servant who has New Zealanders' hearts aflutter". Slate. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  18. ^ Palmer, Geoffrey (10 May 2020). "Geoffrey Palmer: Hallelujah! New Zealand government works". The Spinoff. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  19. ^ "The Ashley Bloomfield Show". Newsroom. 1 April 2020. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  20. ^ "Covid 19 coronavirus: Dr Ashley Bloomfield taking holiday after 'relentless' six months". The New Zealand Herald. 1 July 2020. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  21. ^ Ward, Tara (22 May 2020). "All the weird and wonderful creative tributes to Dr Ashley Bloomfield". The Spinoff. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  22. ^ Molyneux, Vita (5 August 2020). "Morrinsville woman gets portrait of Ashley Bloomfield tattooed on her leg". Newshub. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  23. ^ Chumko, Andre (25 July 2020). "Dr Ashley Bloomfield helps his Centurions XV team win the parliamentary rugby match". Stuff. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  24. ^ Porter, Joe (24 July 2020). "Dr Bloomfield the 'Eliminator' to star alongside ex All Blacks". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  25. ^ "Bloomfa! Dr Ashley Bloomfield scores try in annual parliamentary rugby match". The New Zealand Herald. 25 July 2020. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  26. ^ "The best dressed Kiwis list is out, who makes the cut?". Stuff. 22 November 2020. Retrieved 22 November 2020.
  27. ^ "Covid 19 coronavirus: Ashley Bloomfield apologises to MPs for giving wrong information on infected UN staffer". The New Zealand Herald. Radio New Zealand. 7 August 2021. Archived from the original on 9 August 2021. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  28. ^ "Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield to step down from role". Radio New Zealand. 6 April 2022. Archived from the original on 5 April 2022. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  29. ^ Harris, Sophie (27 July 2022). "Dr Ashley Bloomfield orders 14 councils' water supplies to be fluoridated". Stuff. Archived from the original on 30 July 2022. Retrieved 1 August 2022.