Former long-serving Southern Cross CEO dies

Dr Ian McPherson was the group chief executive for Southern Cross from 2002 to 2014.

Former Southern Cross Healthcare chief executive Dr Ian McPherson has died aged 66.

Southern Cross chairman Greg Gent says, “Ian worked tirelessly for the healthcare industry. With Southern Cross, he brought a lot of experience, knowledge and respect to the health insurance sector nationally and internationally.

“On a personal note, he was a passionate family man. He was devoted to his wife, children and grandchildren and he certainly embodied this ethos within the Southern Cross family. He will be sorely missed.”

Dr McPherson was the group chief executive for Southern Cross from 2002 to 2014, the country’s biggest health insurer.

In 2012, Dr McPherson was elected president of the International Federation of Health Plans. Founded in 1968 by health plan industry leaders, the foundation is the leading global network in the industry, with more than one hundred member companies from twenty-five countries. He was made an honorary life member in May.

He started his career as a general practitioner in Thames, where he also practiced in anaesthetics and obstetrics.

In the 1980s he worked for the International Red Cross and was the first non-Swiss to be appointed as medical coordinator, initially serving on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. He subsequently worked with refugees on the Thai/Cambodian border and with Vietnamese boat people in Malaysia.

Upon his return to New Zealand, he held roles as chief executive of the Bay of Plenty Health Board, worked in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, for the Ministry of Health, as executive chairman for Aetna Health and as regional general manager of health for Allianz Asia Pacific. 

Dr McPherson was previously chairman of the Bruce Mason Theatre Board and chairman-elect of the Northern Regional Board of NZ Red Cross.

He was on the Nominating Committee for the Guardians of NZ Superannuation Fund, and held director positions on the boards of Work and Income, the New Zealand Insurance Ombudsman Commission and Board, Mercy Angiography, Southern Cross Hospitals, Southern Cross Benefits and NZ Red Cross National Board. His most recent appointments were as interim chief executive for Hutt Valley and Wairarapa District Health Boards which he stood down from in 2015 due to illness.

He is survived by his wife, their six children and eleven grandchildren.

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