The long-serving chief executive of the NHS trust that runs the main hospitals in Brighton has announced her retirement next summer.
Dame Marianne Griffiths, 61, will leave her job as chief executive of University Hospitals Sussex next June, having spent more than a decade at the helm of local NHS hospital trusts.
University Hospitals Sussex runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital, the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and the Sussex Eye Hospital, in Brighton.
The trust was created by a merger earlier this year and also runs hospitals in Shoreham, Worthing, Chichester and Haywards Heath.
Dame Marianne has been described as “one of the most influential and longest-serving senior leaders in the NHS”.
She is credited with improving services in Brighton, having taken over an organisation with a £70 million deficit after a highly critical Care Quality Commission (CQC) report.
But now she has called time on 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 until next June 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 comes from Limerick, in Ireland, and lives with her husband in West Sussex.
She trained as a nurse, before reading psychology at Exeter University and completing chartered accountancy examinations with Peat Marwick, now KPMG.
Later, after serving as the chief executive of the Kent and Medway Strategic Health Authority, she became the deputy chief executive and director of commissioning and delivery for NHS South East Coast.
In 2009 she became chief executive of the newly created Western Sussex Hospitals – formed from the merger of the Royal West Sussex and the Worthing and Southlands Hospitals NHS trusts.
She was the Royal West Sussex chief executive before the merger and, by next June, she will have been leading University Hospitals Sussex and its predecessor trusts for nearly 14 years.
In 2017, she and her executive team took over running Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) after the CQC rated the trust inadequate and placed it in special measures.
Earlier this year, after much better ratings, BSUH merged with Western to become University Hospitals Sussex, a £1 billion a year trust.
Among many professional accolades, she has been named the HSJ (Health Service Journal) chief executive of the year.
And she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2019 New Year Honours.
The process for recruiting a replacement chief executive will start immediately.
University Hospitals Sussex 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.”
Another senior NHS colleague, Adam Doyle, echoed those thanks on behalf of many of those in leading NHS roles locally.
Mr Doyle, chief executive of the Sussex NHS Commissioners, including the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “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.”
Mr Doyle, the leader of the integrated care system (ICS) in Sussex, added: “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.”
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