Southern Area Health boss Andrew Newton is leaving the district

United team: Southern NSW Local Health District chairman Dr Allan Hawke and CEO Andrew Newton at health awards in Goulburn in June, 2018.
United team: Southern NSW Local Health District chairman Dr Allan Hawke and CEO Andrew Newton at health awards in Goulburn in June, 2018.

The man appointed to head up the Southern NSW Local Health District less than two years ago is leaving.

Andrew Newton will be taking up a new position as CEO of Northern Beaches Hospital from September 2.

As CEO of Southern NSW Local Health District since November, 2017, Mr Newton oversaw the public healthcare of more than 200,000 residents across 10 regional hospitals.

He came in three months after the former head Janet Compton departed in controversial circumstances.

In a statement, Mr Newton welcomed the move and was keen to take up the new challenge that Northern Beaches Hospital presented.

"I am excited to be joining Northern Beaches Hospital and look forward to working with such a talented team," Mr Newton said.

"This is a great opportunity to capitalise on the hard work, which has been done over the past six months, and continue to demonstrate the commitment to the provision of high-quality care to the local Northern Beaches community, and within the broader health system."

The change of leadership in Southern Area Health comes at a critical time for local health services.

The $150 million re-development of the Goulburn Hospital is underway, including the addition of new cancer and renal service facilities.

Consultation is also underway for the $2.5 million upgrades at Crookwell District Hospital.

There is also union unrest about security at hospitals across the state.

Southern Area Health Board Chairman Mark Harrison said the board was disappointed about losing "a valued employee," but that recruitment was already underway for a new CEO.

"A recruitment process commenced this week that involves a search and advertising process," Mr Harrison said.

"We are working collaboratively with the NSW Health Ministry on this to make it work. The Ministry has a well-practised process for this across the state and we are applying it here.

"There is an importance and an urgency here, but we are going to go through an appropriate process to get the best person possible for the job.

"We are working through transition arrangements and what we need to do to ensure that services to our community are unaffected."

"We are comfortable that this will be managed seamlessly," Mr Harrison said.

He said the current Director of Clinical Operations, Jude Constable, would act in the CEO role.

"It is a crucial time and things need to keep moving along, but Andrew had set up good processes and a good executive team so we are in a position where current projects and operations will continue largely unaffected," he said.

"The redevelopment is still proceeding according to a project plan and the board gets updates on it every month. There has been no slow down of the project."

Mr Newton will have challenges ahead in the new role, considering Northern Beaches Hospital is plagued with problems and about to enter into a parliamentary inquiry.

This follows concerns the public-private status of the hospital prevented the Auditor-General from conducting full and transparent investigations of its operations.

A report listed a series of fundamental failures at the hospital, including delays in delivering abnormal test results, chronic staff shortages and unreliable electronic medical records and paging systems.

The first hearing in the inquiry starts on August 26.

In a statement, a spokesperson from Healthscope, a company which operates private hospitals, said Mr Newton had liaised well with the community in Goulburn and district.

"He has formed constructive relationships with the state government, improved engagement with clinical teams across the local health district and rebuilt robust and healthy industrial relations with staff and unions," the spokesperson said.