EDITORIAL: Human nature to want someone to blame

Janet Compton has resigned as chief executive of the Southern NSW Local Health District.

Janet Compton has resigned as chief executive of the Southern NSW Local Health District.

These pages have contained numerous articles of problems and complaints with our brand new hospital, but Thursday evening’s revelations the local health district head was out still came as somewhat of a surprise.

Janet Compton’s time as chief executive of the Southern NSW LHD was brief and tumultuous. She began her term in March 2016, tasked with overseeing the first days of a brand new regional hospital at Bega and the $120million redevelopment of Goulburn Base Hospital, among other considerable tasks.

But late on Thursday, 16 months into what’s understood was a five-year contract, she resigned. 

It’s human nature to want somebody to blame for when things go wrong.  And more often than not, fingers point to a single entity – the head football coach in a bad season, the company CEO after falling stock prices, the local health district chief executive...

The Southern NSW LHD covers the coast from Eden to Batemans Bay, up the mountain to Delegate and Jindabyne, and circles the ACT through Queanbeyan, Yass and Goulburn.

It reportedly caters to a population north of 200,000 through its 16 separate hospitals and health centres.

In a region of that size there are bound to be numerous issues in the day-to-day operations, personality clashes, workplace culture concerns and so on.

Is it too much of a stretch to say they can’t all be attributed to a single person?

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard calls Ms Compton’s resignation  an opportunity for “a clean slate” in a region that has had more than its share of issues playing out in the public eye.

From a surgeon taking tools from his local hardware into a sterile operating theatre, to a chunk of wood holding open the faulty door to the dialysis ward, SERH has run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous.

The scathing review of SERH made public in May was concerning not just for the issues playing out in the past 12 months, but also what must’ve already existed prior to opening day. 

It’s not surprising those at the top have fallen on their swords for the mistakes being made. However, let us sincerely hope the “systemic and long-standing bullying and harrassment” and lack of commitment to “lived values” highlighted by the Reid Report are also put to the sword, as the responsibility for these fall to everyone, not just the boss.


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