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.”