ACT Health is facing more chaos after its newly appointed chief executive, Janet Anderson, quit her position just three days after it was publicly announced and weeks out from a major restructure.
- Janet Anderson was introduced as one of ACT Health’s new bosses on Monday
- On Thursday, her departure was confirmed by Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris
- It came after a rough year for ACT Health
It comes after months of problems plaguing the health system, including the Canberra Hospital failing dozens of key accreditation criteria in March.
Those have since been rectified under the guidance of ACT Health’s new director-general Michael De’Ath who was to be joined by Ms Anderson as one half of the leadership team of the troubled directorate on October 1.
The pair were to be tasked with overseeing the split of the directorate into two separate organisations — one focusing on frontline health services and the other on policy.
Ms Anderson, who was to be flown in from the Northern Territory, where she was deputy CEO of the NT Department of Health and involved in the royal commission into youth detention, was announced on Monday as the head of the frontline services organisations.
But today an all-staff email revealed she had quit due to “personal circumstances”.
Janet Anderson was due to start as Canberra Hospital chief executive on October 1. (ABC News: Jake Evans)
Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris said she was not “fully aware” what those reasons were.
“I obviously can’t speculate publicly around someone’s personal reasons,” she told the ABC.
“Obviously this is disappointing and very unfortunate.”
‘Clearly a number of issues’ in ACT Health
ACT Health is being split into two halves, with Michael De’Ath taking over as Director-General. (ABC News: Jake Evans)
Ms Fitzharris admitted there were “clearly a number of issues” still to work through in ACT Health, but insisted she was “deeply committed” to fixing them.
ACT Health has been subject to numerous allegations of bullying, harassment and overcrowding, including in an anonymous letter from staff within the maternity unit warning patient safety was at risk.
The accreditation process shone a light on “extreme risks” within the adult mental health unit, which just last week allowed a high-risk patient to escape.
The patient, who was in the centre under a court order, set fire to his mattress and fled out the fire doors.
He later returned without incident.
An external review found a loss of several mental health staff posed major risks. (ABC News: Elise Scott)
That came after several nursing staff were assaulted by a patient at Canberra’s secure Dhulwa mental health facility, in an incident investigated by ACT Health and police.
Adding to ACT Health’s accreditation woes, the radiology department in March failed 28 of 32 criteria to allow it to keep training staff.
The department’s training accreditation was downgraded to the lowest level of D, from an A standard which it had held for 25 years.
The hospital has also been plagued by allegations of poor infection control after several elderly patients contracted norovirus after visiting a friend.
The Government insists the restructure brings the ACT into line with other jurisdictions and has denied it was sparked by continuing problems within the system.
Today, Ms Fitzharris moved quickly to reassure patients and staff there would be no “noticeable differences” from October 1 when the restructure goes live.
Former director-general Nicole Feely left her role when the restructure was announced.
The Government said it would devise a plan to recruit for the position left vacant by Ms Anderson in the coming week.
Opposition health spokeswoman Vicki Dunne described Canberra’s public health system as chaotic.
“This is the latest in a litany of things that are going wrong at ACT Health,” she said.
“[Canberra Hospital] is just a really terrible place for people to be working. I feel for the staff, and I feel for them because of the uncertainty that this whole restructure has caused. Effectively they’ve lost another leader.”