Fate of hospital boss confirmed

HEALTH Minister Michael Ferguson yesterday broke his silence on the fate of Royal Hobart Hospital boss Jane Holden, confirming she had been removed from her position.

However, any attempt to provide certainty only seemed to cause more confusion and distress among health sector staff.

Mr Ferguson announced that the Governing Council of Tasmanian Health Organisation South no longer had faith in Ms Holden's ability to perform her job.

He said the government accepted the council's recommendation yesterday afternoon to remove Ms Holden from her position as chief executive as THO South, with Department of Health and Human Services secretary Matthew Daly stepping into the role for the next six months.

Mr Ferguson said Ms Holden had been returned to her former position as chief executive of the South Tasmania Area Health Service - a position that appears to no longer exist.

Australian Medical Association state president Tim Greenaway, who works at the Royal Hobart Hospital, said the STAHS was folded into THO South in 2012.

Dr Greenaway said Ms Holden's position as chief executive of STAHS was almost the same as her position as chief executive of THO South.

"STAHS as it was doesn't exist, so that doesn't make any sense whatsoever to me," Dr Greenaway said.

Dr Greenaway said hospital staff were upset to learn of such significant changes through twitter and the media.

Health and Community Services Union state secretary Tim Jacobson echoed Dr Greenaway's comments, expressing confusion over Ms Holden's new position.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation state secretary Neroli Ellis said nurse unit managers would be extremely disappointed with the decision, which could cause further instability at the RHH.

Mr Ferguson said the government was unable to provide further details for legal reasons, but provided reassurances that it was committed to ensuring the RHH continued to provide best possible care.

He confirmed that the board of THO South had independently hired a public relations firm several weeks ago to help with "independent communications".

Multiple sources confirmed to The Examiner that THO South has hired Font PR managing director Becher Townshend.

According to the Font PR website, Mr Townshend's interest is in government relations, with crisis management and media training listed as "related areas of service".

jstephens@examiner.com.au or twitter @jodiestephens1