University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust (UHSussex) chief executive, Dame Marianne Griffiths, has announced that she will retire next year.
Dame Marianne is one of the most influential and longest-serving senior leaders in the NHS, having served nearly 14 years as chief executive of UHSussex and its predecessor organisations, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (BSUH) and Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WSHT).
But now she has decided it’s time to end a career that began as a trainee nurse in the 1980s.
Dame Marianne said: “I can’t emphasise enough how incredibly proud I am of all our colleagues who make our hospitals the outstanding places they are.
“We have created a strong new Trust through our merger and the recruitment of new leaders to join an already excellent team of experienced and talented people. We are now setting course for the future with a new clinical operating model and strategy, and a clear vision of the further ongoing improvements we want to make for our patients as part of the new Integrated Care System for Sussex.
“Seeing that through is a long-term job. I want to make sure UHSussex has someone at the helm who will steer it from start to finish rather than carry on and step aside halfway through.
“I will stay on to give the Board time to appoint the right person and to allow me to help them in whatever way I can. I am hugely proud of the continuing improvements in quality of care we have made for our patients over the years, but it’s now time for me to hand over the reins for the next stage of the journey.”
Dame Marianne oversaw the creation of University Hospitals Sussex in April this year through the merger of WSHT and BSUH. She was chief executive of the former since its establishment in 2009 and of the latter since 2017, when the two trusts entered into a joint management contract. She was also Royal West Sussex chief executive up to its merger with Worthing and Southlands Hospitals, leading to the creation of WSHT, meaning she has been leading the hospitals for nearly 14 years.
During her years in charge, WSHT earned Foundation Trust status in 2013. Three years later it became the first multi-site hospital trust in the country to receive an Outstanding rating by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). WSHT exceeded that achievement in 2019 when it became the first non-specialist acute trust to be judged Outstanding right across the board.
Dame Marianne and the WSHT executive team took on leadership of BSUH in 2017 to help improve the safety, quality and sustainability of services.
Over the next three years it became the fastest-improving acute trust in England, emerging from special measures and earning a CQC rating of Good overall and Outstanding for caring. In 2019 it was short-listed for Trust of the Year in the prestigious Health Service Journal (HSJ) Awards.
These successes led to Dame Marianne becoming the first woman to lead the HSJ’s ‘Top 50 chief executives’ list, a position she earned in 2018 and 2019. She was also made a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2019 New Year’s Honours List for services to the NHS.
The process for recruiting a replacement chief executive will begin immediately.
UHSussex chairman Alan McCarthy said: “Marianne would say that the success of our hospitals has been built on teamwork and the fantastic commitment and support of colleagues throughout the trust, but outstanding organisations have outstanding leaders and she is definitely one of them.
“We will all miss her greatly – and I value her support as much as I do her leadership – but we wish her a very happy and well-deserved retirement. Her length of service at UHSussex and its predecessor organisations are a real testament to her vision and her commitment to patients and colleagues alike.”
Adam Doyle, chief executive of the Sussex NHS Commissioners and ICS Leader, said: “On behalf of all system leaders, I would like to thank Marianne for everything she has done over the years. She has been an outstanding and inspirational leader who has always been committed to patients and staff and has contributed so much to not only the hospitals she has led but also the development of our integrated care system. I can understand why she feels it is the right time for a well-earned retirement as University Hospitals Sussex and our ICS go into the next stage of the development journey, but she will be greatly missed and over the coming months I know she will continue to play an integral role in supporting the system to continue to recover, improve, develop and respond to the challenges we face.”