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5 Minutes With Andrew Newton

Andrew Newton | 5 Minutes With…

Chief Executive Officer at Northern Beaches Hospital

Andrew Newton is the Chief Executive Officer at Northern Beaches Hospital and started his career as a nurse before moving into hospital management.

What made you decide to study nursing?

Nursing was actually my second choice. I was enrolled to become a student teacher at teacher training college in North Wales in the UK. It was around that time in the late 80s when my grandfather was unwell and ended up being in palliative care. I was able to watch how people interacted with the family and thought that that’s something that I could be part of. So I went for the interview to become a student nurse in Sunderland in northeast England and got the job. So I’m one of the old school hospital trained nurses and never look back since.

You’ve been at Northern Beaches Hospital for almost a year now, what were the challenges walking into that role, and how do you feel you’ve managed them?

For me coming into Northern Beaches Hospital, it was important to get the real story. When I came in I wanted to find out what the culture’s like, how the people work, how do they work with each other and what I found is that there are a lot of good people doing a lot of great work. One of our priorities together was to work as a team to turn around the reputation of the hospital and to give people who need to use the hospital and choose to use the hospital and refer to the hospital, the confidence that the place is delivering safe and quality care in a timely manner. Gaining that confidence, particularly with our clinical leaders and the influencers within the organisation, was very important.

What were the benefits of working with an executive recruiter to secure the role?

Firstly, I found that the role was vacant because I didn’t see it advertised anywhere. So I was really keen to have the conversation and to have a think about what possibilities might be for a career change at this time of life. For me, the benefits of working with a recruiter was the ability to dig a little bit deeper about the role, find out what the company were looking for, and to be able to make an informed choice as an applicant or whether it was a role I wanted to go for, not just the company looking at an applicant to come into the position.

When you are recruiting for a senior executive to join your team, what are the key attributes you look for in the person, apart from technical skills and experience?

I think technical skills and experience are the two things that get you to an interview. So that’s what’s got you across the line and sort of the conversation at a senior level on how well the person is with regards to fit for team, communications and the ability to collaborate. It’s really important at our level to be thinking about teamwork. Once we’ve done the interview, for me, that last hurdle is checking they are fit for the team.

How do you feel COVID-19 has influenced the roll-out of telehealth in Australia?

I’ve had quite a long experience in rural New South Wales. I’ve worked in both Western and Southern New South Wales local health districts and telehealth has been utilised in these areas for some time. It’s helped to overcome the tyranny of distance and also enabled patients and clinical teams to maintain contact. What I believe is through COVID-19, it’s certainly been a catalyst to widening the use of telehealth and that was out of pure necessity. It was reassuring to see the various levels of government come together to support patients and practitioners, to be able to facilitate the use of telehealth.

Who or what has inspired you the most in your career?

For me, inspiration comes with working with people so committed to the cause. Health employees, such a varied group of roles and a varied group of people within these roles so no day is the same as previous. I do get inspiration from the people in our teams every day.

In terms of building their career, what are your top tips for aspiring leaders?

My top tips for aspiring leaders are the ability to listen, to collaborate, and to consider. Make decisions based on evidence and your experience and have the courage to follow through. Manage up an alert of risks, events, etc and do this early. Even if you’re still collecting information, raise the flag early and take a no-surprises approach.

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