LONG-serving Hampshire health trust chairman Elizabeth Padmore is retiring at the end of December.

She became chairman of Basingstoke and North Hampshire NHS Foundation Trust in 2010 and was part of the team that oversaw the creation of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in January 2012.

Ms Padmore was re-appointed in 2013 and 2016, meaning she has served as chairman for nine years, the maximum possible term.

Among her achievements was being named winner of the Sunday Times Public Sector Non-Executive Director of the Year Award in 2013.

She said: “I have genuinely enjoyed my nine years as chairman and it is with a heavy heart that I step away from an organisation that means so much to me.

“I will particularly miss our wonderful staff, who do such a great job, day in, day out, caring for patients across our hospitals. I would like to thank them all, and my colleagues on the board of directors and those on the council of governors, both past and present, for making my time at the trust so enjoyable. It has been an honour and a pleasure to be your chairman.”

Staff across Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester, have been saying a fond farewell to her.

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Liz’s departure will be a huge wrench for us as she is so much a part of our trust.

“There have been a number of opportunities for staff to say their farewells to Liz over the last couple of months. All of them have been really emotional occasions, both for Liz and other members of staff, which speaks volumes about not only Liz’s passion for Hampshire Hospitals, but also the tremendously high regard in which she is held.”

The Council of Governors unanimously agreed to the appointment of Steve Erskine as Liz’s successor, and he will take over in January. He is currently chairman at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and brings extensive experience of the private and public sector.

HHFT has around 6,000 staff and a turnover of £385million a year.