6 September 2018

Embattled ACT health system hit again as new CEO quits post three days after appointment

| Glynis Quinlan
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New Canberra Hospital CEO Janet Anderson (second from the right) has quit the post. She is pictured at the announcement of her appointment on Monday with Michael De’Ath, Meegan Fitzharris and Shane Rattenbury. Photo: Supplied.

The embattled ACT health system has been hit hard again with the new chief executive of Canberra Hospital and Health Services quitting the post just three days after the ACT Government announced her appointment.

Janet Anderson, the coordinator of the Northern Territory Government’s response to the Protection and Detention of Children, was given an “incredibly important” leadership role in delivering health services for the ACT once the system splits in two on October 1 but has withdrawn from the job “due to personal circumstances”.

A spokesperson for ACT Health Minister, Meegan Fitzharris, has confirmed the splitting of the health system into two organisations will still go ahead on October 1 but it seems unlikely that a new chief executive officer will be appointed by that date.

The head of the ACT public service, Kathy Leigh, told public servants about Ms Anderson’s decision in an email to them this morning (September 6).

“Earlier this week I announced the appointment of Janet Anderson PSM as Chief Executive Officer to lead the organisation with responsibility for clinical operations and the delivery of quality health services under the new arrangements for the ACT Health Directorate. Janet was to commence the role on 1 October 2018,” Ms Leigh wrote in the email.

“Due to personal circumstances, Janet has advised that she is no longer able to take up this appointment.

“I know that she genuinely regrets having to withdraw from her appointment and I wish her all the best for her future.

“The current arrangements for the management of our Health Services will continue and I will provide further advice about recruitment for the Chief Executive Officer role in due course.”

Speaking on ABC Canberra radio this morning, Ms Fitzharris said that she was not “fully aware” about why Ms Anderson had withdrawn from the appointment and said she couldn’t “speculate publicly about someone’s personal reasons”.

“Obviously this is disappointing and very unfortunate,” Ms Fitzharris said.

“This has only just come about this week and so we will take some time to plan how we then recruit to this position.

“What I would say is that there are interim arrangements anyway. There is already a deputy director-general of Canberra Hospital and Health Services.”

Janet Anderson (right) pictured at the opening of the new $2.9 Gungahlin Walk-in Centre on Monday with Michael Petterson MLA and Meegan Fitzharris. Photo: Supplied.

Ms Anderson was chosen to be one of the two new heads of the ACT’s troubled health system following a nationwide recruitment process.

Michael De’Ath was appointed as director-general of the Health Directorate and chosen to head up the strategic policy and planning side of things. Mr De’Ath has been Interim director-general for the past four months following Nicole Feely’s resignation in March.

The ACT Government has been banking on the restructure into two distinct organisations helping it to resolve the problems that have plagued the ACT health system in recent times.

Speaking at the announcement of the two new appointments on Monday, Ms Fitzharris said Mr De’Ath and Ms Anderson would be tasked with working collaboratively to improve the ACT’s health system.

“These two key leadership positions are incredibly important. Mr De’Ath and Ms Anderson will head up two organisations committed to keeping our community healthy through person-centred care, quality, innovation, engagement and accountability,” Ms Fitzharris said on Monday.

“Things don’t change overnight in a big system but we are making progress on many counts.”

Late last month, Canberra Hospital was re-accredited for a further three years after action was taken to remedy dozens of shortcomings identified by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards earlier in the year.

There have also been strong concerns raised about the resourcing and staffing of the hospital’s maternity services.

A Canberra urologist has today also gone public with concerns about bullying and harassment within Canberra’s public hospitals.

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