Brad Hazzard Northern Beaches Hospital
New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard (Image: AAP/Andrew Leeson)

Three weeks is a long time in the news. On October 30, reporters from local newspapers and TV stations in Sydney descended on the new Northern Beaches Hospital for the picture-story of the day — the first patients moving into the hospital.

Reports stayed away from the controversy that the public-private project had previously courted in the years following its announcement. There were stories of the last baby born at Manly Hospital (and the follow-up, the first baby born in the new hospital), and the first patients to be treated at the new facility (“I had 10 doctors and nurses looking after me“). Even the ABC was out and about for the opening.

Fast-forward a couple of weeks and the new hospital has been wracked with controversy — doctors refusing to operate, complaints about a lack of essential items, including syringes, and senior doctors passing a vote of no confidence against hospital management. Coverage has largely been driven by a series of exclusives in The Sydney Morning Herald, which are then barely followed-upon in the print editions of Sydney tabloid The Daily Telegraph.

The story has been on the front page of the Herald four times in the past week, and on page three another three times.

The outlets that had lapped up stories from the opening have now turned, reporting on the “chaos” of the hospital, including CEO Deborah Latta’s resignation just two days after the hospital’s official opening this week.

The NSW government and hospital executives have said the issues are “teething problems” associated with the big project.