• Plans will formalise relationship between Western Sussex Hospitals Foundation Trust and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust
  • NHSI asked Western Sussex to provide leadership support to BSUH in 2016
  • Since trusts began sharing leadership, BSUH has left special measures and improved CQC rating to “good”

One of the first acute trusts to be rated “outstanding” is to form a permanent group structure with a neighbouring trust after two and a half years of sharing a senior leadership team.

The plans will formalise relationships between Western Sussex Hospitals Foundation Trust and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust. The trusts will remain as separate organisations with their own assets, but working together under a group structure with shared leadership. 

NHS Improvement asked Western Sussex’s executive team to provide leadership support for BSUH in 2016, after the Brighton trust was put into special measures and the board – then headed by a temporary chief executive – was heavily criticised by the Care Quality Commission.

Since the shared leadership commenced in April 2017, BSUH has exited special measures for both finance and quality and its CQC rating has jumped from “inadequate” to “good”.

However, the existing contract to provide support is due to end in March 2020. It has been unclear what would happen to the trusts’ leadership at that point and whether a formal merger would be proposed.

The executive team has now said a permanent group structure with a single executive team would be the best option. HSJ understands this approach has the support of NHS Improvement.

It is intended the new model will be in place by the beginning of April 2020. The next six months will be used to work out how the new group will operate and how benefits for both trusts are maximised, the trusts said in a statement.

Former Brighton and Hove City Council chief Alan McCarthy will continue to chair both trusts.

Dame Marianne Griffiths, joint chief executive of the two trusts, said: “I am really excited by the continuing opportunities this strong relationship will provide and I look forward to seeing our teams take advantage of these to develop their own practice and provide even better care for patients.

“The commitment and hard work shown by colleagues at both organisations has been incredible.”

Western Sussex will hear next week if it has retained its “outstanding” CQC rating. Since the two trusts started sharing leadership, Dame Marianne has twice been named as HSJ’s top provider chief executive.


Updated 16.26 17 October to add information from the trusts about Mr McCarthy’s continuing role.