Two months after being appointed the interim chief executive overlooking the New Royal Adelaide Hospital (NRAH), Len Richards has quit, despite the hospital’s opening being just weeks away.
Len Richards became Central Adelaide Local Health Network chief executive officer in February after previous CEO Julia Squire was sacked.
Opposition health spokesperson Stephen Wade said there had been a revolving door of departures at SA Health.
“This is the sixth key project leader of the NRAH project who has been lost in the last two years,” he said.
“We’re in the second month of the testing process for the new RAH, one of the biggest projects in Australian history, and to have another leader pass through the revolving door just adds another layer of risk to an already high-risk project.”
A number of senior SA Health leaders involved in overseeing the NRAH project have left the department in recent years, including Andew Neilsen, David Panter, Steve Moro, David Swan and Judith Carr.
In a bulletin to staff, SA Health said Mr Richards had decided to return to the United Kingdom for “family reasons” and a new job.
SA Health department ‘toxic’
Mr Wade said he believed the department was “toxic”, with too many contentious changes such as the troubled Transforming Health reforms.
“I’ve even heard of people saying there’s no way I’d even consider applying for a job in South Australia. It is such a train wreck waiting to happen,” he said.
When Mr Richards took over as interim CEO, SA Health chief executive Vickie Kaminski said he would bring “staff together in a very quick manner to bring them into NRAH.”
That job will now go to Jenny Richter, who retired from SA Health last year but was brought back this year on a temporary contract.
“Jenny’s leadership skills and expertise will be invaluable as we prepare to move to the new Royal Adelaide Hospital,” the staff bulletin said.
“In addition to her knowledge and experience from working at SA Health for many years, Jenny has recently played a key role in the preparation and planning for the transition to the new hospital.”
Mr Wade said Mr Richards’ resignation was bad for staff morale.
“Medical and nursing staff have repeatedly said how frustrated they are that every time a new [leader] is appointed to the project, they have to go back to square one on issues,” he said.
Ms Richter will officially start next month and continue until a permanent replacement is found.
Mr Richard’s last day will be on June 16.