Department of Health permanent secretary Sir Hugh Taylor has told colleagues he is leaving the department to take up the role of chair of Guy’s and St Thomas’s Foundation Trust.

Sir Hugh was made permanent secretary at the DH in 2006 after a period as acting permanent secretary following the departure of Sir Nigel Crisp.

Under Sir Nigel the role of permanent secretary had been combined with the role of NHS chief executive. But the furore created by the implementation of the commissioning a patient-led NHS policy led to criticisms of the combined role and the two posts were eventually split.

Sir Nigel had penned a letter to primary care trusts instructing them to “divest” themselves of their provider arms. The instruction created controversial headlines the department was “privatising” community services. At the time, ministers denied that was their intention, although by the end of the last government it was their stated preferred option.

The policy has now come full circle with yesterday’s revised NHS operating framework confirming PCTs must divest themselves “by April 2011”.

Before taking up the permanent secretary role, Sir Hugh was the department’s strategy and business development group director. He previously held senior management roles in the prison service, the cabinet office and was director for NHS workforce in the NHS executive.