Problem-plagued Sydney hospital appoints new chief executive amid inquiry

 


The new chief executive of Sydney's Northern Beaches Hospital has been appointed from within the state's public health system and will take charge days after a parliamentary inquiry begins into the problem-plagued hospital.

Andrew Newton will become the chief executive of Sydney's newest hospital on September 2, a week after the first hearing of the inquiry launched over concerns that the public-private status of the facility prevented the Auditor-General from examining its operations.

Mr Newton takes over from interim chief executive and Healthscope executive Stephen Gameron who stepped in when the inaugural chief Deborah Latta resigned in November 2018 - two days after the hospital’s official opening ceremony amid reports of mounting crises.

The veteran healthcare executive was most recently chief of the Southern NSW Local Health District. He was general manager at Westmead and Auburn hospitals between December 2014 and November 2017, and general manager of Blacktown and Mr Druitt hospitals the three years prior

Mr Newton’s appointment comes weeks after a damning report revealed a series of fundamental failures weeks after the first patients were admitted including delays in delivering abnormal test results, chronic staff shortages and unreliable electronic medical records and paging systems.

When he takes up the position, the parliamentary inquiry into the hospital’s internal operations will already be under way, sparked by concerns that the public-private status of the hospital prevented the Auditor-General from conducting full and transparent investigations of its operations.

The hearing starts on August 26, with former and current senior executives, NSW Health bureaucrats and whistleblowers expected to give evidence, including Ms Latta, former medical director Louise Messara, and the former head of anaesthetics Alistair Boyce.

The three senior executives stepped down in the days and weeks after the hospital's opening eight months ago, marred by shortages of essential drugs and medical equipment, understaffing and concerns over systemic failures that compromised patient care.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Newtown said he was excited to be joining the hospital and looked forward to working with its talented team.

“This is a great opportunity to capitalise on the hard work which has been done over the past six months and continue to demonstrate the commitment to the provision of high-quality care to the local northern beaches community and within the broader health system,” he said.

According to Healthscope, Mr Newton has "improved engagement with clinical teams across the local health district and rebuilt robust and healthy industrial relations with staff and unions”.

“One of Mr Newton’s strengths is his commitment to engaging regularly with local communities,” the Healthscope statement read.


 

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