Dr Frances Hughes


Frances has had 30 years of experience in the New Zealand health service, working as a health clinician, manager and educator. She is a trained general and mental health nurse. In addition to her nursing qualifications, she has a BA, MA and a doctorate. She is a member of many national and international nursing groups, and has held many national positions within New Zealand. She has played a major role in leadership in Nursing in New Zealand and was instrumental in the development of government policy around nurse prescribing, MOH primary health care & rural scholarship schemes, nursing workforce, nurse practitioners & development of NZ Healthline. She also has been instrumental in the development of Mental Health Nursing both professionally, clinically, educationally over the past two decades. This includes being instrumental in the, establishment of a separate professional body of mental health nurses, design and development of both the nationally funded new graduate and advanced mental health nursing programs.

Frances held the position of the Chief Nurse for New Zealand for several years. She has been involved in international research in areas such as Costing Nursing Turnover, primary mental health, stalking and is on the international Advisory Group for the ANCC in USA. She holds three directorships for New Zealand companies.

For several years Frances held the position as the Commandant-Colonel of the Royal New Zealand Army Nursing Core. She was the first nurse to be awarded the Harkness Fellowship in Health Care Policy in 2001, from Commonwealth Fund in New York. This Fellowship allowed her to study US Health policy, her mentor was Dr Linda Aiken from the University of Pennsylvania, USA.

Over the last few years Frances has been commissioned by governments, WHO and NGO’s for work in relation to Nursing, Policy and Mental Health in Australia, South Pacific, UK, Canada and Asia. Frances has been technical consultant for WHO in particular the area of psychosocial emergency response guidelines for Nurses with Dr Margaret Grigg. Frances is known for her innovative style and strategic approaches to health care. She held the first Professor of Nursing and the Director of the Centre for Mental Health Policy, Research and Service Development at the University of Auckland. She continues to hold position as Adjunct Professor AUT Auckland & Visiting Professor Status at the University of Sydney.

Frances has until recently worked as the facilitator for WHO/WPRO Pacific Island Mental Health Network. She continues to practice clinically as a mental health nurse in a NGO mental health service and she also has established a public policy consultancy business, through this she has a team of personnel that provide policy, health research and evaluation expertise. This involves her working with international aid agencies, disability provider groups in mental health and intellectual disability and government departments and Ministry of Health as Principal Clinical Advisor for Office of the Director Mental Health.

She is a fellow of the New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses and the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses. Frances received a Queens Birthday Honour for 2005, and was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for her services to Mental Health. She has been recognised for her scholarship and research through gaining the award of being one of the authors of one of the Top 10 cited papers (2006–2008) published in International Journal of Nursing Studies. In 2009 by MORST as the only nurse as part of their research to practice examples.

In October 2011 Frances received a New Zealand Fulbright Senior Scholar Award to undertake research in the USA 2012/2013 on Post disaster lessons as they apply to health professionals.

She has published widely in referred journal on areas of nursing turnover & workforce, primary mental health, policy, nursing leadership & psychosocial emergency response. She is on the editorial board of 4 international mental health and nursing journals. In 2007 she released her first book titled Have your say – influencing public policy.