2021 College Awards

Congratulations to the 2021 College award winners who were announced at GP21: The Conference for General Practice on Saturday 7 August 2021.

Distinguished Fellowship of the College

Dr Bryan Betty, Wellington

This year marks 15 years of practice for Dr Betty at the Porirua Union and Community Health Service in Cannons Creek. With a largely Māori and Pacific population, and high number of refugees, around 90 per cent of his patients have quite complex heath needs. 

His commitment to tackling health inequities goes far beyond his clinical work. Dr Betty has long been vocal about New Zealand’s high rates of Rheumatic fever and Type 2 diabetes. Both illnesses affect the most vulnerable populations in our communities.

Dr Branko Sijnja, Balclutha

Dr Sijnja has worked as a fulltime GP in Balclutha since 1974. He was drawn to general practice by the relationships he was able to build and consistency he could provide his patients. Over the last 47 years Dr Sijnja has delivered hundreds of babies, watched them grow, and then cared for their children. 

As Director of the Rural Medical Immersion Programme in the Department of General Practice and Rural Health at the University of Otago, Dr Sijnja continues to encourage and empower the next generation of rural doctors. 

Dr Clare Healy, Christchurch

Christchurch GP Dr Clare Healy was awarded Distinguished Fellowship of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners for her 30-year career working with patients who have experienced physical or sexual abuse.

Dr Healy hae has been involved in sexual assault medical care for over 30 years and is regarded as New Zealand’s foremost GP expert in this field. She regularly works alongside Police, lawyers, academics, judges and other non-government organisations to share her knowledge and assist these groups to work more effectively with patients of these types of assault

Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen, Auckland

Auckland-based Dr Jansen is the Clinical Director of the National Hauora Coalition - a clinical network of 54 GP practices, serving over 220,000 patients across five District Health Boards. 

He is passionate about community care and his drive to improve health equity for Māori is apparent through recent roles as Clinical Director at South Auckland’s Papakura Marae, and his work developing the school-based health team also in South Auckland, whose overarching aim is to eliminate rheumatic fever in New Zealand. 

Dr Peter Fleischl, Taupō

Dr Fleischl’s 30-year dedication to the Taupō community was highlighted when he combined his personal and professional interests in music, geriatric medicine, and palliative care, raising thousands of dollars for the Lake Taupō Hospice through a series of pioneering open rehearsal chamber music concerts. He collaborated with other members of the New Zealand Doctors Orchestra, where he plays in the cello section.

As well as being a working GP, Dr Fleischl has taken on many leadership roles within the College. From 2014 – 2020, he served as the College’s Censor in Chief, which is the College’s highest academic role and responsible for the oversight of New Zealand’s general practice education programme.

Sandra Jessop, Hawke's Bay

For over 30 years, Dr Jessop has been advocating for, and serving her local community in the Hawkes Bay suburb of Flaxmere, implementing initiatives to make healthcare more accessible for local families. 

Dr Jessop’s commitment for teaching shows in roles she has taken on within the College. She has been the chief examiner for the General Practice Education Programme (GPEP) for many years, has hosted numerous registrars in her practice and has taken on a visiting GPEP medical educator role. 

President's Service Medal

Dr Maia Melbourne-Wilcox, Christchurch

Dr Melbourne-Wilcox (Ngati Tuhoe) is currently the Chair of the Primary Care Division of Te Kaupapa Whakakaupapa Urutā National Māori Pandemic Group. She worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by coordinating a group of dedicated Māori GPs across the country to ensure Māori are heard and prioritised in the local, and national level decision making processes. 

Within the College, Dr Melbourne-Wilcox has been instrumental in ensuring the clinical and written registrar examinations are culturally appropriate, and she is a part of the current curriculum review. 


Chris Wright, Wellington

Dr Wright started his career in Wainuiomata in 1987, and in 2000 was the founding GP of the Waiwhetu Medical Centre, a new iwi-based health service in Lower Hutt. Subsequently, he returned to private practice as a partner at Naenae Medical Centre. 

Within the College, he has been a GPEP1 teacher for the last 20 years and a medical educator for the training programme in Wellington during that time, mentoring new generations of GPs as they progressed through their training. 

Dr Shane Cross, Kaikohe

Dr Cross has worked as a GP in Kaikohe for over thirty years, practicing medicine in a high-needs community based medical centre in the heart of the Far North. Over this time Dr Cross has dedicated himself to his work and patients.

Within the College, Dr Cross has worked as an accredited teaching general practitioner for more than a decade and has mentored the many students who have undertaken a placement at his practice. He holds himself, and others to a high standard and consistently receives positive feedback about his mentoring.

Dr Ali Begg, Christchurch 

Dr Begg is an advocate for reflective practice at all levels of training, and alongside her colleagues in Canterbury, has facilitated small reflective practice groups for College trainees who are going through their first year of training. 

She has also established peer supervision groups for the College’s General Practice Education Programme (GPEP) medical educators to enable them to discuss challenges in their teaching, share ideas, and learn small group facilitation skills.  

Dr Frances McClure, Mission Bay 

Dr McClure is a well-known and respected GP in her local Mission Bay community, where she has practiced for more than 40 years. Her genuine dedication to the community is highly valued by her patients with many of them now bringing their own children and grandchildren to see her. 

Throughout her career, Dr McClure has committed to a mana-enhancing practice. She is well-known for actively promoting the values that epitomise the role of a GP – respect, dignity, and integrity. 

Community Service Medal

Dr James Chisnall, Motueka 

Dr James Chisnall, a Motueka GP, was awarded a Community Service Medal for his tireless work for his patients and his community. 

For many years Dr Chisnall has been part of a team implementing services that benefit the Motueka community, ranging from reviewing mental health services, helping to set up community-based services such as a visiting paediatric service for Motueka’s vulnerable children, and advocating for funding to keep the 24-hour service running and ultimately reducing the rates of hospital admission.

Dr Jonathan Chambers, Christchurch

Dr Chambers has worked diligently for his patients in the Christchurch suburb of Barrington for over 34 years. In 1986, he joined his father, Dr Peter Chambers, at the Barrington Medical Centre, and since then, he has built an impressive reputation with his patients and colleagues.

Dr Chambers is well regarded as an excellent diagnostician and has a wide range of medical skills including maternity care, palliative care, gynaecology, and skin surgery.

Dr Mark Taylor, Hamilton 

Throughout his career Dr Taylor has been instrumental in working with his local District Health Board to ensure his community had the appropriate access to chest x-rays and ultrasounds so that investigations could be made in a timely manner.

Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, Dr Taylor arranged for Waikato GPs to speak directly to General Medicine Senior Medical Officer’s (SMO) to diagnose and come up with treatment plans for patients as a way to reduce hospital admissions during this very busy and uncertain time, as well as organising funding for the GPs for the extra work that was involved.

Dr Rachel Shouler, Tarawera

Dr Shouler is a GP at Tarawera Medical Centre and works as a GP liaison for Bay of Plenty District Health Board and is the Clinical Director at Eastern Bay of Plenty Primary Health Alliance (EBPHA).

Over the past 12 months she has played a significant part of the COVID-19 response for the Eastern Bay of Plenty community. She has been involved in the set-up of community testing centres, the delivery of COVID-19 swabbing tests, and has supported other practices through this period of uncertainty.

Dr Sandhya Ramanathan, Auckland

In 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting people worldwide, Dr Ramanathan became aware of rising levels of anxiety and a lack of easy-to-understand, credible information locally, and abroad. Using plain English and easy-to-understand medical information, she took matters into her own hands and in a single take on a Sunday night in June, filmed her 18-minute YouTube video ‘Home Medical Management Plan for Mild COVID-19’.

To date, Dr Ramanathan’s video has been translated into 14 different languages and has rewarded her with widespread recognition and acclaim. 

Dr Ramanathan is continuing to make YouTube videos, providing medically researched tips to help people navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Mike Jenkin, Swanson

For over 30 years, general practitioner Dr Mike Jenkin has been serving the Swanson community. 

Dr Jenkin has a true cradle to grave approach to general practice. He once delivered 70 babies in one year as an obstetric GP, and then gaining a Diploma in Geriatric Medicine and providing expert care to the older population in the community. At one stage he even worked as a Police doctor.

Dr Hamish Wilson, Dunedin

Dr Wilson has been involved in making significant changes to undergraduate medical education at the University of Otago where he is an Associate Professor in the Department of General Practice and Rural Health. These changes include implementing a ‘care in the community’ programme, developing a mentoring programme, and summarising complex medical text into plain English. 

In 2013 Dr Wilson co-authored a book, ‘Being a Doctor: Understanding Medical Practice’ that addresses the gap between medical theory and the realities of clinical practice. 

Dr Maelen Tagelagi, Auckland

Dr Tagelagi is one of five GPs who founded Health New Lynn in 2013, (an amalgamation of four general practices) that currently serves over 18,000 patients. By creating one centre for the people of New Lynn and the surrounding areas, patients have access to a wide range of services all under one roof.

Dr Tagelagi served on the advisory board for the bowel screening pilot in West Auckland, the first in the country, and has been an active member of the ProCare Primary Health Organisation (PHO) Quality Committee. ProCare is New Zealand’s largest cooperative of GPs, nurses and general practice teams providing community healthcare to over 800,000 people across the Auckland region.

Dr Murray Smith, Ōmokoroa

Dr Murray Smith, who retired in March 2021, was a general practitioner at the Ōmokoroa Medical Centre for 25 years. 

In 2013 when the medical centre became a teaching practice, Dr Smith began supervising registrars as they went through their training to become qualified general practitioners. His stable and practical teaching environment has seen many of his registrars stay and work in the community.

For the College, he spent time as a regular examiner for the General Practitioner Education Programme (GPEP) exams.

Dr Susie Lawless, Dunedin

Dr Lawless has worked as a GP at Amity Health Centre in Roslyn for two decades. She played a key role in the centre becoming one of the first practices in Dunedin to achieve accreditation from the College of GPs and become a recognised training practice for registrars.

Dr Lawless was at the forefront of ensuring that her practice was part of the refugee support programme when Syrian refugees were resettled in Dunedin in 2018. 

Dr Lawless coordinates a programme to facilitate access to health care for prisoners following their re-entry into the community and has served on the Southern Child Youth Mortality Review Group and the Southern District Health Board Clinical Leadership Group.  

Humphrey Rainey Medal

Dr George Ansley 

Dr Amjad Hamid Medal

Dr Jonathan Penno
Dr Sarah Scott