• David Clayton-Smith has been chair since 2016
  • Trust had £57.4m deficit in 2017-18

The chair of a financially challenged trust is to step down after less than three years.

David Clayton-Smith was appointed chair of East Sussex Healthcare Trust in January 2016, shortly after it had been placed in special measures and his term of office runs until 2020. The trust got a “requires improvement” rating from the Care Quality Commission in June this year and its leadership was singled out for praise.

This lead to it being taken out of quality special measures but its financial position remains precarious with a deficit of £57.4m in 2017-18, excluding sustainability and transformation funding. It is aiming for a deficit of £45m this year and remains in financial special measures. 

Mr Clayton-Smith said: “When I took over as chair, the trust was in a very difficult position. Working together we have addressed a number of challenges, listened to members of staff, and built the relationship between the Trust and the local community. Having overseen such positive change over the last three years, I believe that now is the time for a refresh, with the trust continuing its quality transformation and financial recovery with a new chair.

“It is a tribute to the trust’s staff, volunteers and board that we have been able to make such progress. I am confident that ESHT is on course to continue to improve, giving the people of East Sussex a health and care service of which they can be proud.”

Last month, a local MP singled out Mr Clayton-Smith and chief executive Adrian Bull for praise.

Anne Eden, NHS Improvement and NHS England regional director for the south east, said: “I would like to thank David for his contribution at the trust over the last three years. He has overseen significant improvements in the quality of care provided to local patients and culture across the trust. 

“The trust, working with the CCGs, must now build on this progress to address the unsustainable financial position across East Sussex. This will be the priority for the new chair.” 

Mr Clayton-Smith is also chair of the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Academic Health Science Network and spent three years on the board of Frimley Health Foundation Trust. He will remain as chair at ESHT until a successor is appointed.