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Chief revealed for large hospital trust

Published on: 16 Feb 2022

The former chief medical officer of a large multisite trust is been confirmed as its new chief executive, HSJ has learned.

The council of governors at University Hospitals Sussex Foundation Trust approved the appointment of George Findlay to replace Dame Marianne Griffiths early this morning.

Dame Marianne announced her retirement last October. Dr Findlay will take up his post “as soon as practically possible,” according to the trust, which runs four hospitals will full A&E departments along the south coast, including the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

Dr Findlay is currently interim chief executive at the much smaller Medway FT, where he has been for just nine months. His interim appointment was due to be for 18 months. His early move back to Sussex is likely to raise some eyebrows at Medway, which has had a chequered past and a relatively high turnover of CEOs over the last decade.

Before the move to Medway, Dr Findlay was briefly deputy chief executive and chief medical officer at UHSussex when it was formed from the merger of the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust and Western Sussex Hospitals FT last year.

Before that, he was part of the team from Western Sussex which went into BSUH – long seen as a failing trust – as part of a management deal in 2017. He had been medical director at Western Sussex since 2014, and saw the trust rated “outstanding” after a Care Quality Commission inspection in late 2015.

While the management deal had some notable successes – including an improved CQC rating of “good” up from “inadequate” for BSUH – the new trust has hit headwinds. A major redevelopment of the Royal Sussex County Hospital is behind schedule and over budget and senior doctors’ safety concerns led to a CQC warning letter and downgrading of some departments. Brighton has ongoing major operational pressures.

Dr Findlay worked as a specialist intensive care consultant and led the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death for a decade.

He said of his appointment: ”I’m really pleased to be coming back to Sussex and looking forward to working with everyone to build on the improvements we made before the pandemic.

 “There’s never been a more challenging time in the NHS but I know we have the people, commitment and ingenuity we need to come through it stronger than ever.”

UHSussex Chair Alan McCarthy said of Dr Findlay’s appointment: “The chief executive role attracted a range of highly-qualified candidates but George stood out, not just for his experience and achievements, but also for his ambitions for UHSussex and the approach he proposed for realising them.

“George’s knowledge of our hospitals, the communities we serve and the challenges we face will be invaluable in helping us maintain the record of improvement established under Marianne’s leadership.

“He has also been able to implement his own ideas to bring about some impressive rapid improvements at Medway. That experience will give him a valuable new perspective to bring to our own Patient First improvement model too.”

Medway’s chair, Jo Palmer, said Dr Findlay had made a huge impact: “He quickly began to introduce new approaches and ways of working to accelerate our improvement and has worked with senior leaders to harness the potential of teams, demonstrating what we can achieve here at Medway.

“As a result, we are now seeing great improvements for our cancer patients, and in our emergency department patients are being seen more quickly.”

Meanwhile, Kate Slemeck, who was appointed managing director of the eastern (Brighton) part of UHSussex has left after just five months. Ms Slemeck, who took up the position last September, moved to become managing director at St George’s University Hospital Trust last month.