Portland District Health has appointed a new chief executive officer after more than 12 months without a permanent chief.
Board chair Peter Matthews announced experienced executive Samantha Sharp as the new CEO on Wednesday, saying Ms Sharp would lead the service to a "positive future" when she starts on December 6.
The appointment ends an uncertain period for PDH's leadership after previous long-term CEO Christine Giles was dismissed in April following 10 months of extended leave after making bullying and harassment allegations against board members and senior Department of Health officials, which remain unresolved.
Ms Giles had been highly critical of the PDH executive and board as the health service faced major staffing problems that forced it to suspend its maternity services for several months. Mr Matthews sacked Ms Giles after critical public comments she made in March.
PDH appointed a clinical coordinator for its re-established midwifery services in August and started a service-wide strategic planning process in early September as it attempts to start afresh.
Mr Matthews said the board was "excited by the vision, energy and expertise" Ms Sharp would bring as she navigated the reboot.
"We are confident that PDH will continue to serve the community of Portland and district with high-quality care under her leadership," he said.
He also thanked interim CEO Karina Prevett for holding the fort for more than a year "at a time of great challenge and uncertainty".
With more than 25 years' experience in local government and health bureaucracy, including a previous stint at PDH, Ms Sharp said she aimed to provide "the best health service" she could in Portland. "Given the tyranny of distance that we work under, it's important that people know there's a health service that can support them when they need it," she said.
"Living here and having previously worked in the hospital, I know what an important service it is for the community and I'm pleased to be able to make a contribution back to the area that has supported me to get my start in health."
Ms Sharp said she planned to work with the PDH board to bring in the changes recommended by the Hillis report, a 2019 investigation of the hospital's workforce model by Associate Professor David Hillis. The report found financial, governance and workforce management failures at PDH stretched back more than a decade and had not been fixed despite several previous reviews.
"Despite significant financial and governance support being provided, poor financial performance, instability in leadership and poor organisational culture continue to escalate," Professor Hillis said in the report.
"During this review frustration was frequently expressed that the clinical service issues have not been addressed appropriately. It is most strongly recommended that no further reviews be undertaken until the recommendations accepted by the DHHS and PDH are implemented."
The Hillis report was accepted and signed off by the PDH board in 2020, but there did not appear to be any attempt to implement its recommendations until services started imploding in 2022. Before she was sacked, Ms Giles said the hospital had undergone three more reviews since the Hillis report, despite Professor Hillis pointedly advising against further reviews.
The hospital has faced chronic difficulties attracting long-term permanent medical staff.
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