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Frimley Health chief executive Sir Andrew Morris announces his retirement next year

Frimley Health NHS FT’s chief executive Sir Andrew Morris will continue to lead the transformation of the local care system when he retires from his CEO post next year.

Sir Andrew, 62, who has worked in the NHS for 43 years and is one of the longest standing and most successful hospital chief executives in England, announced to his staff and other colleagues this week that he will be leaving the trust after 29 years in charge in February 2018.

Last year he took on the task of leading the creation of the Frimley Health and Care Accountable Care System (ACS) in an unpaid capacity on top of his substantive post. From next year he will focus entirely on continuing to lead the ACS.

He will formally continue his position as leader of the ACS from April 1 2018, helping to pioneer the national drive for more integrated, less fragmented health and social care services. The post will be on a part time basis.

Sir Andrew said: “It has been a privilege to work for our local hospitals. For me, healthcare is a people business and I have worked with some outstanding colleagues. I am proud of what we have achieved together over the years.”

On the ACS, he said: “The NHS has talked about integrated care for a long time but the way the system was set up made it hard to work collaboratively. Now we have a chance to make serious progress and we have to do it, not least for our growing older population. For me, this is unfinished business.

“We have already made great progress with the Frimley system and we have been identified as an area that can pioneer improvements the rest of the country can follow. I want to help make that happens. For our patients, it will mean more joined-up services and faster progress in areas that really matter - like making it easier to see a GP and getting faster access to mental health care.”

Matthew Swindells, NHS England's National Director of Operations and Information, said: “I'm delighted that Sir Andrew will continue to lead the Accountable Care System in Frimley and will be dedicating his time to improving NHS services across East Berkshire, North East Hampshire and West Surrey and integrating them ever more closely with social care and other services. Having a leader of his calibre in charge of creating a population health focus in one of our best health systems and showing the way for the rest of the NHS shows how important the Accountable Care Systems are to the NHS's future.”

Jim Mackey, chief executive of NHS Improvement, said: “Sir Andrew is a great example of what NHS leadership should be. He cares deeply about patient care, the service generally and the staff he leads, and he displays NHS values in everything that he does.

“He is also a very humble and grounded man and is one of those rare people who is universally respected and liked in equal measure. In many ways, he is an NHS leadership great and can be justifiably very proud of his career and legacy.

“I’m glad that his skills won’t be lost from the NHS and wish him great success in his ACS role.”

Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust is now beginning the process of finding its next chief executive who can build on Sir Andrew’s legacy.

The trust’s chairman Pradip Patel said: “Sir Andrew’s passion to provide the best possible service to our patients and to create a great place for our people to work in is legendary. In the short time I have had the pleasure to work with him, I have seen this at first hand and I have seen him work 24/7 to make sure that patients are given the best possible care and experience.

“The good news is that Sir Andrew doesn’t retire till mid-February 2018, so we can still continue to benefit from his great leadership of Frimley Health and plan for his succession.

“Sir Andrew will be a hard act to follow and I am determined to find the right person who can build on the legacy that he will leave behind.”

When the time comes, Frimley Health NHS FT will be marking Sir Andrew Morris’s four decades of dedicated service in the NHS and recognising his remarkable achievements and leadership.

Sir Andrew's career in the NHS

Sir Andrew joined the NHS in 1974 aged 19. He progressed through a number of appointments in the Midlands and was appointed general manager of Frimley Park Hospital in February 1989 and became its chief executive in 1991.

He managed the establishment of the Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit in 1996 and led Frimley Park’s successful application to become one of the first foundation trusts in 2005.

More recently, he led the acquisition of Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to create Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust in 2014 and was knighted in January 2015 for services to public health.

Frimley Park Hospital was the first in England to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the turnaround that he led at Wexham Park Hospital from an ‘Inadequate’ to a ‘Good’ rating in 15 months was described as the “most impressive seen” by Sir Mike Richards, the Chief Inspector for the CQC.

In 2017, a Health Service Journal panel comprising some of the most senior healthcare leaders in the UK, ranked Sir Andrew top of the list of NHS chief executives.