Janet Compton dumped as Southern NSW Health District chief

GONE: Janet Compton is looking for a new job following her departure as Health District CEO.

GONE: Janet Compton is looking for a new job following her departure as Health District CEO.

Janet Compton has been dumped as the Southern NSW Local Health District’s chief in a major shake-up.

The chair of the Health District Board, Jenny Symons has also been replaced.

The circumstances of Ms Compton’s departure are still under a cloud. However she’s come under increasing pressure over management of Bega Hospital, staff pressures, complaints about a culture of bullying and harassment at the facility and the departure of orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Chris Phoon. Her leaving also comes on the back of a Ministerial review of the hospital’s administration.

Ms Compton’s management of Goulburn Base Hospital and the mooted move of the Bourke Street Health Service’s palliative care unit to the facility ahead of its redevelopment has also been a source of tension with the community and Goulburn MP Pru Goward.

It’s understood Minister Brad Hazzard will start recruitment to replace Ms Compton immediately.

She was only 16 months into a five-year contract as the Health District’s chief. Ms Compton was appointed 18 months ago. In August, 2015 she resigned suddenly as Melbourne Hospital’s CEO amid government and community concerns about that facility’s performance. 

However the SNSWLHD defended her appointment, saying her “extensive professional background and managerial qualifications were highly regarded” and she had been selected from a strong field of candidates.

In an email to staff on Thursday Ms Compton offered no reason for her departure but wrote that it was “with sadness” she was advising it was her last day in the role.

“It has been my honour to be the chief executive for the past 18 months and to lead the exciting journey of improvement we have been on. I would like to thank you all for your support and hard work during my time as Chief Executive and wish you all the best for the future,” she wrote.

A spokesman for the SNSWHD confirmed the departures and said Julie Mooney, who has 38 years’ experience with the Health District, had been appointed acting CEO. Ms Mooney began her career as a nurse at Kenmore Hospital.

Dr Allan Hawke AC has been appointed board chairman, replacing Ms Symons. He comes with a wealth of experience, including as chief of staff to former Prime Minister Paul Keating. Dr Hawke also oversaw a review of the ACT public service, is a former High Commissioner to New Zealand,  deputy secretary to Defence and Prime Minister and Cabinet, secretary of Veterans' Affairs, Transport and Regional Services, and Defence. Dr Hawke was also chancellor of the Australian National University for three years.

He was born in Canberra, lives in Queanbeyan and is chair of the Canberra Raiders.

It’s understood Dr Hawke will meet with the board in Bega today.

Bega MP Andrew Constance told the Bega District News the region “desperately needed a fresh start”.

“I have full admiration for Jenny Symons and the work she has done and leadership shown over her four-year term [as board chairwoman],” Mr Constance said.

“So many of us fought for so long to get this new hospital and good things happen there every day. But I have to say the community, I think, wants a lot more confidence in the governance at the top.

“This is a very big region, not just this facility [South Eastern Regional Hospital) and failures in governance can’t come down on one single individual.

“Now the Minister has made this decision and we expect to see a change in direction.”

More to come


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