The chief executive of Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has resigned to take over the helm of the Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust.

Colm Donaghey will join the mental health trust on 1 July. He will take over from Lisa Rodrigues, who last year announced her plan to retire in summer 2014. She has been chief executive at Sussex Partnership and its predecessor organisations for the last 13 years.

Mr Donaghey was chief executive at Belfast Health and Social Care for just under four years. The trust provides community, hospital health and social care services, has an annual turnover of £1.2bn and a workforce of 20,000.

The trust recently received criticism after the accident and emergency department at its Royal Victoria Hospital declared a major incident with a large backlog of patients waiting to be seen.

In an interview with the BBC at the time Mr Donaghey said he would not resign.

A recent survey of Sussex Partnership staff found that more than two-thirds thought there was a culture of bullying, fear and blame at the trust.

Mr Donaghy said: “Mental health affects one in four of us and is a major cause of premature death. But we clearly have a way to go to achieve parity of esteem between physical and mental health care. Having had experience of managing the full range of community and hospital health and social care services, I hope I will be able to make a significant contribution this important issue when I join Sussex Partnership in the summer. I’m excited by the new job and very much looking forward to new challenges.”

Chair of Sussex Partnership John Bacon said: “I am very pleased we have appointed someone of Colm’s calibre. He is a highly experienced chief executive with considerable knowledge and expertise in health and social care.

“Like every other part of the NHS, Sussex Partnership faces many challenges, not least the increasing demand upon mental health services that we are seeing across the country. I am confident that Colm has the drive, vision and leadership to help the trust continue to innovate and deliver high quality care to the patients and communities we serve.”

Ms Rodrigues said: “I would like to give Colm Donaghy my warmest wishes. I may be biased, but I think he has been appointed to one of the best jobs in health care. Our patients and their families are brave, challenging and rewarding to work with. Our staff are skilled, compassionate and hard working. It will be good to move on to my new world this summer knowing that, after 13 years, I will be handing Sussex Partnership into Colm’s experienced, expert and safe hands.”