WORKFORCE: The chief executive of East Sussex Healthcare Trust has resigned after councillors placed a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the organisation’s leadership.

Darren Grayson has left with immediate effect after five years at the trust.

East Sussex Hospital Trust

Darren Grayson oversaw a controversial reconfiguration at the trust

The trust’s deputy chief executive, Richard Sunley, will be acting chief executive until an interim chief is recruited to lead the trust for 12 months.

Mr Grayson oversaw a controversial reconfiguration of maternity and paediatric services. The Department of Health’s National Clinical Advisory Team had said the services could not continue as they were and the trust and commissioners agreed to centralise the services because of a shortage of staff. However, there was public backlash and local politicians were against the move.

In May councillors took a unanimous vote of “no confidence” in the leadership of the trust and called for Mr Grayson to resign.

The Care Quality Commission raised concerns about the leadership and culture at the trust when it inspected in September last year. However, despite giving the trust an “inadequate” rating it has not made a decision over whether the trust should be placed in special measures.

The trust has been reinspected due to the six month lapse between the first inspection and the report’s publication. A decision over whether to place it in special measures will be taken once the second report is published.

Mr Grayson also oversaw the merger of community services with the acute hospital to become East Sussex Healthcare Trust in 2011.

He said: “Having been chief executive in East Sussex for five years and having led the organisation through some significant change to improve the quality of our services for patients I believe the time is now right to hand the baton to the next leader to continue this journey of improvement. We have made a good start for our patients but there is much work still to do and this needs both a fresh focus and a long-term commitment to continuity that, after 14 years already as a chief executive in the NHS, I can’t give at this stage in my career.

“Whilst I am looking forward to the next chapter, I am also sorry to be leaving a great organisation and many, many fine colleagues. Time and again, I have been humbled and inspired by their compassion and dedication to their work in caring for people in East Sussex.”

Stuart Welling, chair of the trust, said: “Darren has successfully led an unprecedented level of change in our organisation that has made sure our services are safer and more sustainable for the future. He has done this with great energy, commitment and passion. 

“We all greatly appreciate what Darren has achieved for our patients and wish him every success for the future.”