20 February 2023

Canberra Health Services slammed for $800,000 rebrand

| James Coleman
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Dave peffer

Canberra Health Services CEO Dave Peffer. CHS said the project will deliver “very clear and positive benefits”. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Canberra Health Services (CHS) has defended plans for an $800,000 rebrand after the opposition dubbed it “PR spin”.

The two-year contract between the ACT Government and Melbourne-based creative design company Studio Binocular calls for a “refreshed brand mark” for CHS, including a new uniform design and brand communication strategy and campaign.

The brief is to define “who we are, what we stand for, what we can offer employees in return for their skills, capabilities, and the experience they bring to a role with CHS”.

In criticism reminiscent of the Bureau of Meteorology spending $220,000 last year asking people to drop the ‘BOM’ in favour of ‘The Bureau’, Shadow Minister for Health Leanne Castley has described the contract as a “marketing strategy from a worn-out government”.

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“If Canberra Health Services don’t know who they are or what they stand for, who their stakeholders are and what tone they should use to address them, then heaven help us,” she said.

“Canberrans are currently enduring unacceptable wait times for emergency department treatment and specialist outpatient services – $800,000 would pay for 30 hip replacements, 200 cataract operations or 300 MRIs. The people of Canberra just want a functioning health system, not more PR spin.”

CHS split off from ACT Health in 2018 to look after the day-to-day running of the Canberra Hospital, University of Canberra Hospital, the Walk-in Centres and many other community-based health services.

A spokesperson has defended the rebrand project as “consistent with other jurisdictions” and a fix for local staffing issues.

Canberra Hospital Expansion

An artist’s impression of the Canberra Hospital expansion, showing the new emergency entry and Welcome Hall. Image: ACT Government.

“We have heard from consumers some of the difficulties they have with navigating around the Canberra hospital campus, understanding our services and where to get more information,” a spokesperson said, referencing a 2021 audit.

“This project is about strengthening the CHS brand – improving the way our consumers and carers navigate and experience our services, increasing staff engagement and pride and giving us a point of difference in a highly competitive recruitment market.”

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Last year, a report by the Australian Institute of Health Welfare (AIHW) found that patients in Canberra’s emergency departments were waiting more than double the national average time to be admitted. It’s not the first time.

And in another report by the ACT branch of the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation (ASMOF) in September 2022, staff at Canberra Hospital were found to be “fatigued … unsupported, undervalued and did not feel they were sufficiently skilled to take on duties allocated to them”.

But CHS declared the project will deliver “very clear and positive benefits”.

Signage will be improved around the different health facilities, while a “consistent approach” to uniforms will make team members “more easily identifiable to patients and carers, and … reflect the health literacy needs of all our patients and carers from different backgrounds”.

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This project is also said to help make the Territory stand out in the healthcare job market and establish CHS “as an employer of choice”.

“We are competing interstate and internationally in a saturated health care professional recruitment environment for high-calibre staff,” the spokesperson said.

“Our brand project will deliver an employee service offer to highlight the benefits of working for CHS, recruitment materials and campaigns to support in recruiting and retaining the best healthcare talent.”

It’s understood CHS will also announce a wave of new nurses and other healthcare workers tomorrow (21 February).

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GrumpyGrandpa11:49 am 22 Feb 23

I was recently admitted into the ED and thankfully for everyone, it was a very quiet night.
The staff were absolutely wonderful. I couldn’t overstate the level of care I was given and the extent to which they ran precautionary tests, to ensure that my condition wasn’t related to a major health condition that I have.

Wasting “health dollars” on issues not directly related to patient outcomes is disgraceful.
Our health workers (and us patients) deserve better than this.

So we are health service “consumers” now.

HiddenDragon6:49 pm 21 Feb 23

“CHS split off from ACT Health in 2018 to look after the day-to-day running of the Canberra Hospital, University of Canberra Hospital, the Walk-in Centres and many other community-based health services.”

In a rational world, which was focused on the best outcomes for consumers and taxpayers, rather than the career interests of local politicians and back office bureaucrats, a deal would be done to have CHS run as an area health service in the NSW Health system.

Like every other health system, NSW Health most certainly has its problems, but it has a scale and depth which the ACT system will never have and which would mean that frontline ACT health services, run as part of a much larger system, would not need to waste so much time and money reinventing the wheel – as with this rebranding exercise.

One wonders how difficult life would be navigating oneself around the health system in the unlucky event that the current line-up of Liberals ever made it into government. Not to mention Ms Castley as Health Minister! I do find it particularly difficult getting my head around her muddled thought processes!! Ms Castley and her party can’t have it both ways, arguing for a better functioning health system but criticising the government when they take steps to do this. $800,000 for a two year contract to improve the day-to-day operations of the Canberra Hospital, University of Canberra Hospital, the Walk-in Centres and the many other community-based health services to make them more accessible is money well spent and a pittance in the larger and ongoing scheme of bettering our public health system. Particularly for those who are elderly, Indigenous, non-English speaking, have a disability or are visually or hearing impaired. From my current experience, the hospital’s rapid expansion has made it particularly difficult and time-consuming for me to navigate, particularly with its numerous outpatient services and clinics spread over Canberra.

Gregg Heldon4:47 pm 21 Feb 23

What position do you actually have within the Labor party? They could start killing people for running red lights and you’d be okay with it.

Sorry to disappoint you Gregg Heldon but I don’t work for the government, either locally or federally. However, like many of my friends who have grown up or studied in Canberra, we take an interest in politics. My friends are from both sides of politics and some work within the Assembly or up on the hill. We discuss politics, have different opinions and often disagree. Just like the various opinions published in Riot-Act. That’s democracy. I have also spoken to many MLAs, both Labor and Liberal when they have been out-and-about campaigning at shopping centres or when they knock on my door.
I take a very dim view of motorists driving erratically, running red lights or talking on their phones whilst driving, no matter what side of politics they hail from.

Jack D,
Can you start adding a disclaimer at the end of your comments, “authorised by the ALP Canberra”?

Your inability to show any form of objectivity and consistent whataboutism about the local Liberals makes your contributions worthless.

So an advertising agency improves day-to-day operations of a health service by improving signage and making nice uniforms, awesome. With those sort of abilities maybe we should get advertising agencies to run the country, they might be able to ‘magic’ away all the problems with some new typefaces.

The best way to improve the brand is to improve the service, not to add spin. People are not stupid. Those looking for work will do their research before applying for jobs.

Actually some people ARE stupid – the ones (usually on the organisation’s executive) that think a rebrand earns anything but exasperation. It’s as bad as the washing powder proudly proclaiming “New Look!!” … and meaning the box.

Capital Retro10:13 pm 20 Feb 23

I couldn’t find CHS on the ABN lookup page. Well, yes it is there but it’s a “brand” that belongs to a different entity. Strange way to run a business.

Hopefully this will stop all the people flying to syndey to get emergency care rather than shopping locally for it.

Still haven’t worked out why they split, however they’re trying to bandaid over every problem they have. Just didnt want to be in the same room as each other?

I may be cynical however, whenever they do something like this, its normally to distract from something else.

Gordon Williamson6:12 pm 20 Feb 23

CHS – Canberra Health Service. It is meant to be a service – not a brand. Time for the bureaucrats to stop wasting money by trying to puff up their own self-importance and just get on with delivering services.
Haven’t heard a single health consumer saying they were confused by what Canberra Health Service was meant to do. Heard plenty of complaints about services not being delivered though.

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