23 March 2018

Big shake-up for Health with directorate to be split in two

| Ian Bushnell
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Canberra Hospital: The Government says growing demand on the health system is behind the shake-up.

ACT Health faces a major shake-up with its head stepping down and the directorate to be split into policy and service functions from 1 October.

One of the new organisations will focus on the delivery of health services while the other will develop strategic policy and oversee planning of the health system.

Two new executive positions will be created to lead the new organisations and the Director-General position will no longer exist from 1 October 2018.

The current Director-General, Nicole Feely, has advised the Government that she will pursue new opportunities, having led ACT Health over the past three years.

The announcement comes on the same day that the Auditor-General launched an investigation into how ACT Health responded to allegations of breaches of the Public Sector Management Act 1994 relating to the misreporting of data by the former Performance Information Branch.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Meegan Fitzharris said the changes would bring the ACT into line with every other Australian jurisdiction and help meet the growing demand for health services in the Territory.

The health service delivery organisation will focus on delivering person-centred care, while the health policy and planning organisation will oversee the operation of the health system and set its direction, as outlined by the ACT Government, specifically the Minister for Health and Wellbeing and the Minister for Mental Health.

“This is all about making sure Canberrans get the best possible care and continue to be the healthiest people in the country. With our health system expanding and increasing demand on our health services, now is the perfect time to move towards a more contemporary health system. This separation will enable a clearer focus on operational effectiveness and efficiency, and improve accountability for health service delivery,” said the Minister.

“The ACT Government will continue to invest in preventive, community and hospital-based services to build and improve health facilities in the ACT, for a Territory wide system that is adaptable to the community’s changing needs.

“Both organisations will continue ACT Health’s commitment to the health of our community, specifically an approach to health that is all about people, as well as a commitment to quality, innovation, engagement and accountability.”

Ms Fitzharris said that the clinical and service planning under way through the Territory-wide Health Services Framework would remain a key priority for Government, and it would continue to establish clinical Centres, which will group clinical services through Centre Service Plans and Specialty Service Plans.

She said that Ms Feely had positioned the organisation to take this next step in its transformation.

“We thank Ms Nicole Feely for her commitment and focus. She has been instrumental in beginning this reform process within ACT Health, transforming strategy and positioning ACT Health for a sustainable financial future,” she said.

Karen Doran will act as the Director-General of ACT Health and a small dedicated team will be established to guide the planning and delivery of the new structure with leadership from ACT Health Deputy Directors-General.

Staff, employee representatives and health stakeholders and the broader community will be consulted.

Minister for Mental Health, Shane Rattenbury said the separation would facilitate improved mental health services delivery, while also allowing mental health policy to improve its focus – within Health and across Government.

“The establishment of the Office for Mental Health will ensure that these efforts are well coordinated,” he said.

Opposition Leader Alistair Coe said he failed to see how creating two departments of health in a small jurisdiction would fix Canberra’s health woes.

“It’s pretty shoddy that on the same day the Auditor-General announced she is investigating very serious allegations into ACT Health, Minister Fitzharris comes out and makes what seems to be an ad hoc decision to split the directorate in two,” he said.

“This decision is straight out of the LDA playbook: after a scathing Auditor-General’s report, split the organisation in two, double the costs and claim the problem has been solved.

“Unfortunately, the Government’s integrity problems are not just limited to property deals, but also the management of ACT Health and other agencies. There are many questions to be asked.”

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HiddenDragon1:34 pm 29 Mar 18

“One of the new organisations will focus on the delivery of health services while the other will develop strategic policy and oversee planning of the health system.”

Sounds like the groundwork for a purchaser/provider split, with scope for contestability of service delivery, which could even lead to Capital Retro’s solution – we do it for policing, so why not for some/most health services?

A classic case of creating an organisation with power but no responsibility. Our only hope is for the developer of a policy or plan to be transferred to the delivery organisation and become responsible for delivery of that policy or plan.

When I was in the PS it was common knowledge that the bosses bunged on a reorganisation to give the appearance of doing something in front of the minister to protect their positions. Making work for idle hands.

Looks like nothing has changed…

Capital Retro10:35 am 26 Mar 18

Nothing like a good old name change to give the impression of vision and progress.

This one is a classic “split” which means two annual reports instead of one.

Capital Retro9:14 pm 25 Mar 18

Why can’t our health system be run by NSW? It couldn’t be any worse, the “coal-face” workers would keep their jobs and most of the bureaucrats would disappear.

It would simplify the “cross-border” issues and funding would be a lot more certain. The ambulance system could be included.

seems like a logical solution. Could also follow it with policing, education, transport etc. Nope, too many economies of scale available to do it.

Capital Retro8:29 am 25 Mar 18

I can’t help notice the dark humour depicted by the sign “Patient Drop Off Zone” shown in the image heading this thread.

It’s nearly as good as the sign at a fried chicken restaurant in Fyshwick which says “By-pass Lane”.

It all focuses on negative patient outcomes I guess.

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