Who is CPRG

Canterbury Primary Response Group (CPRG) is a collaborative group of health professionals and provider organisations tasked by the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) to lead the region’s primary care emergency planning, response and recovery. It is headed by Dr Phil Schroeder, the Primary Care Coordinator (who will also head the Primary Care Response Team in an emergency). The CPRG meets regularly and issues updates to primary care providers as well as communicates with the CDHB and other relevant organisations in Canterbury.

A Canterbury-wide health response was planned in 2005 when the district turned its attention to the Avian Influenza threat. This was exercised in full when H1N1 Swine Flu arrived in New Zealand in late April 2009. Dr Schroeder and the team led the primary health response in Canterbury where there was widespread use of flu centres to both treat and protect the Canterbury population.

In 2010 it was recognized that further emergency planning was required for primary health to be of help in the event of other emergencies or natural disasters. Before being fully prepared for the task, Dr Schroeder and the Canterbury Primary Response Group were called to lead the primary health response following the February 22, 2011 earthquake that devastated Christchurch.

Since then the CPRG has led the development of a comprehensive set of plans that would be implemented in the event of a future emergency and to help coordinate a whole-of-health response should it be required. The CPRG Emergency Plan can be found here. An A4 flyer presenting the CPRG organisation can be found here.

Our goals

CPRG’s goals:

  • To establish a collaborative and coordinated emergency response by General Practice, Community Pharmacies, Community Nursing and other Primary Health Care Providers within the Canterbury region.
  • To provide coordinated community health services in support of the CDHB.
  • To work with the CDHB in the restoration of population health.
  • To enhance resilience and the ability to maintain primary and community health services following any major health emergency.

The CPRG team

Canterbury Primary Response Group consists of a core group of clinicians and managers to support the planning and implementation of an emergency response in Canterbury. In an emergency event, the wider Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) may be activated. The EOC is supported by Pegasus Health, Waitaha PHO, and Christchurch PHO.

We are very sad to announce the resignation of Dr Phil Schroeder and Graham McColl from the Canterbury Primary Response Group (CPRG). They have been instrumental in planning for and establishing an emergency response for Canterbury primary care over the years and have brought many years’ clinical and strategic emergency management experience, respectively, to the region.

We would like to welcome Dr Hannah Gordon into CPRG. Hannah has been a key member of the COVID-19 Emergency Operations team, bringing medical oversight into the CBAC and telephone triage teams initially and laterally supporting the CPRG team with communications and strategic clinical direction.

Deborah Callahan

EOC Manager

Deborah has been working in primary care emergency planning since 2013.  Her role in CPRG evolved after the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake response where she was Logistics manager. Since then she has been supporting the development of an organised primary care-led Emergency Operations Centre. The role supports planning by CPRG and facilitates interaction between CPRG, the EOC site, Christchurch PHO, Pegasus and Waitaha Primary Health PHOs, and the Canterbury District Health Board. In the COVID-19 pandemic she has recently taken on the role of EOC Manager.


Dr Hannah Gordon

GP Clinical Lead

Hannah Gordon is a GP with a special interest in communication and accessible health information. She stepped into the role as CPRG GP clinical lead to continue the hard work of Phil Schroeder. She has been involved in the Canterbury COVID-19 response at a number of levels and understands that relationships and communication are at the core of an effective emergency response. Hannah trained as a GP in the UK and has worked in general practice, urgent care and as a clinical editor in Christchurch for the last 9 years.

Kelly Robertson

Nursing Advisor

Kelly is a Registered Nurse, with over 42 years’ experience working in both the secondary and primary health care sectors. She is currently the Nursing Advisor for CPRG. For the past 14 years she has been part of the emergency preparedness journey for primary care – starting with the SARS scare of 2003, the early pandemic planning for the H5N1 Avian Influenza threat, and then was part of the planning and leadership team at the central Flu Centre for the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. During the 2010-2011 and 2016 seismic events she played a coordination role with CPRG for the response and ongoing recovery phases.

Robyn Harris

Pharmacy Advisor

Robyn Is a liaison pharmacist with the Canterbury Community Pharmacy Group, an organization tasked with developing and delivering enhanced pharmacy services in the community.  Robyn also concurrently works in Community Pharmacy and is involved in the evolution of a Pharmacy Charitable Trust.  Over the years Robyn has worked in various roles including hospital and community dispensary work, teaching, hospital pharmacy management, and project management. She brings strong relationships with community pharmacies and previous liaison experience dealing with emergency situations within Canterbury.

Bill Eschenbach

Rural Liaison

Bill provides a strong rural perspective to CPRG. As Chief Executive of Waitaha Primary Health PHO, Bill has extensive emergency planning, response and recovery experience. He brings strong cross-system linkages and rural primary care knowledge.

Tina Morrell

EOC Support Coordinator

Tina is a Web Applications and Marketing Specialist at Pegasus Health. Tina has a depth of experience in digital technologies, administration, event and business management spanning IT, Search Engine Technology, Finance, Aged Care, Construction and other sectors for more than 20 years. Her role as Support Coordinator for CPRG supports, updates and maintains digital and planning frameworks required to respond to any emergency as smoothly and effectively as possible.