Stuart Bell, departing chief executive of the South London and Maudsley Mental Health Foundation Trust, has told HSJ he wants to help develop an academic health science centre in Oxford.

Mr Bell, who confirmed he would leave the UKs largest mental health provider after 14 years, is to become head of the smaller Oxford Health Foundation Trust in October.

Director of dinance and corporate governance at SLaM, Gus Heafield, will step into his role as acting chief executive.

Mr Bell told HSJ his family had existing connections in Oxford. He said: “We’ve had a house in the area for over a year now with the intention of moving there and I started my NHS career in Oxford.

“I have been here [SLaM] for 14 years now and if I am going to do something different I need to do it fairly soon.”

He said he was also attracted to the opportunity of creating an academic health science centre, which Oxford does not currently have, as well as the model of community services and integrated care with mental health services which the Oxford Health trust offers.

Mr Bell, number 84 in the HSJ100 list of the most influential people in health policy, has led SLaM since it was created in 1999. He told HSJ: “I think on the whole it is a good thing for people to be in a place for a period of time, you have to face up to your earlier mistakes and make them right.”

But he said he was keen to remain involved in his work on developing mental health services, saying “it will be from a different perspective but that is not a bad thing”.

On mental health services in the future, he said: “We have something to teach from our experiences over the last 20 to 30 years, we have a lot of connections to make and we still have some significant gaps to fill and get right.”

Madeliene Long, chair of SLaM, said: “I am incredibly proud to have worked alongside Stuart. His thoughtful, informed and inspirational leadership has done much to shape the style and culture of our organisation.”

Mr Bell, was awarded a CBE in 2008 for services to the NHS, and has been a crucial part of efforts to bring in payment by results for mental health services as chair of the Department of Health’s expert advisory group. He has also helped in the development of the King’s Health Partners AHSC.

Before working at South London Mr Bell was chief executive of Thameslink Trust and Lewisham and Guy’s Mental Health Trust. Earlier in his career he worked at Charing Cross and Whittington hospitals before moving to the South West Thames Regional Health Authority in 1990.