The outgoing Southern NSW Health District chief executive Andrew Newton is used to putting out fires.
He arrived in a blaze of glory in late 2017 following his predecessor, Janet Compton's controversial departure. Mr Newton set about mending relationships with staff and the community and managing the redevelopment or upgrade of five hospitals under his control.
He has made his mark in a very short amount of time and won respect from management and staff for his consultative style.
Mr Newton arrived just as a new staff structure was about to be implemented. The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association and Health Services had raised "significant concerns" about the grading of roles and extension of responsibilities across the District.
Much to his credit, he listened and deferred the restructure, saying he needed to be convinced of its merits. It has since undergone extensive revision and met with better response.
Mr Newton also opened up good channels of communication with the media and was keen to spell out his vision. It included less reliance on locums and stemming the patient flow to the ACT.
Locum use is still too high. But overall, he has made inroads and put the Health District's management back on an even keel.
So it's a shame he's leaving after such a short time and at such a critical juncture in Goulburn Base Hospital's redevelopment, the largest one ever. Perhaps it's in good hands but we're yet to see whether it will meet budget.
Mr Newton was not on a fixed contract so he was free to leave. Now he's going to put out more fires at the problem-plagued Northern Beaches Hospital in Sydney.
The SNSWLHD is having a mixed run when it comes to chief executives. Let's hope the next one has greater longevity.
Meantime, we wish Mr Newton all the best in his new role.
Striking for safety
Thursday's strike by the Health Services Union in Goulburn might have been small but it has rammed home a big message.
Health and security employees should be able to go about their work in as safe an environment as possible. Yes, unexpected things happen in hospital settings but the key is to minimise risks. That means adequate staffing, including more security personnel.
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