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on a ‘burning platform’ …

The Beagle Editors, Your readers might be interested in our latest media release on a ‘burning platform’ …

There can be no doubt that the departure of Dr Chris Phoon as head of Orthopaedic Services at the South East Regional Hospital (SERH) represented a great loss to our community, including the hundreds of patients who have benefited from his undoubted skills as a surgeon.

And while significant questions remain unanswered, including the reason that Dr Phoon was victimised by the Southern NSW Local Health District (SNSWLHD), who was directly responsible (even though the former Chair & CEO suddenly & conveniently exited the situation) & how much the ugly affair ultimately cost the far south coast community & all taxpayers in NSW, there was a positive outcome.

The reality is that the Dr Phoon scandal created the “burning platform” necessary to precipitate genuine reform within the local health district & at the new SERH: reform that otherwise may never have come about, as it was clearly beyond the previous executive to even recognise the need, let alone do anything about it.

The appointment of Dr Allan Hawke as the new Chair of the SNSWLHD in August, 2017 marked a new beginning & was followed by the appointment of Andrew Newton a couple of months later in November. Both are seasoned executives & leaders, & from the outset have demonstrated a strong commitment to engaging & consulting with the community, as well as a willingness to be open & transparent about their activities & plans.

The approach adopted by Hawke & Newton seems to represent a complete reversal of the previous management strategy & style pursued by the local health service & the larger bureaucracy of NSW Health & should be both applauded & encouraged by the community.

The reform agenda being pursued at the SERH came from the blunt findings of the Reid Report which, in turn, was borne out of the uproar over the perceived mistreatment of Dr Phoon, & has reportedly made great progress, & is being publicly championed by the new CEO.

Last week Mr Newton made a further positive announcement involving the planned appointment of two new Orthopaedic Surgeons at SERH, along with a post-graduate Fellow as a conscious & deliberate investment in succession planning.

The BVSRRA is not so naïve as to believe that all the problems, challenges & difficulties existent within the SNSWLHD have disappeared or will all disappear in the short term, but it is delighted that, at the initiative of the NSW Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard, supported & encouraged by the Member for Bega, Andrew Constance, the new senior group in the local health district has both the necessary mandate & capabilities to drive the cultural transformation so critical to the future of our community’s public health services.

For its part, the BVSRRA is delighted to have been afforded the opportunity of being involved in meaningful consultations with both Dr Hawke & Mr Newton; a refreshing & positive contrast to the last-century management approach pursued by Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC).

Indeed, if a path to genuine reform in the public health service in our community can be found & embraced, surely a similar path to genuine & lasting reform in the area of local government shouldn’t be so hard to find?

The BVSRRA looks forward to continuing its engagement with Mr Newton & will support & encourage his efforts to bring about positive, meaningful & ongoing reform for the benefit of our entire community.

John Richardson


Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association

#Opinion #Bega

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