Sean Duggan OBE to leave NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network

Mental Health Network chief executive set for pastures new following his appointment as chair of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

19 December 2023

After seven years with the membership body, Sean Duggan chief executive of the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network will be leaving in the spring, as he has been appointed as chair of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. 

Commenting on this news, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:

“Sean has been a passionate advocate for people with mental health problems and learning disabilities and he has consistently made the case both for parity of esteem and for extra investment and focus on mental health when it had slipped down the national agenda. This includes continuing to push for reform of the Mental Health Act. I am delighted that Sean’s passion will not be lost to the NHS as he becomes chair of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

“On behalf of my executive team and staff, we are proud of the contribution Sean has made during his seven years at the NHS Confederation and we will look to build on the important support that he has provided to our mental health trust and independent and third sector members in future.”

Under Sean’s leadership, the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network has grown considerably to now include all mental health trusts in membership, as well as a large number of independent and third sector organisations. 

Sean joined the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network in 2016, having previously been chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health. He was awarded an OBE in 2022 in recognition of his services to mental health, and earlier this month, he was selected to receive the 2024 Skellern Lifetime Achievement Award for his tireless efforts to improve care across the sector. 

Sean trained as a registered mental health nurse in 1979 and has held a number of other national roles, including as offender health consultant for the Department of Health, as well as director of health and social care for criminal justice at the London Development Centre. Throughout his career, Sean has influenced health policy including his membership of the NHS Long Term Plan steering group and as chair of a focus group for the review of the Mental Health Act. Also, he has led on several health economic studies, has worked hard to ensure mental health nursing is promoted at all opportunities, and has been resolute in his focus on raising standards for some of the most vulnerable people within our society.

Commenting on his departure, Sean Duggan OBE, said: 

“It is a bittersweet moment to be leaving the NHS Confederation next spring because while I am immensely proud of the progress that we have made to make the case for parity of esteem between physical and mental healthcare and to have grown the Mental Health Network’s membership as an influential voice on policy development, I can see there is so much more to be done, including around further national investment and around the much-needed reform of the Mental Health Act.

“I will look forward to continuing improving health outcomes for people and to help ensure NHS staff have every opportunity to flourish in their careers as chair of my local trust where I will succeed the excellent, Peter Molyneux.

“Being chief executive of the Mental Health Network has always been about building relationships with our members and doing what we can to support them. I have learned so much from the time I have spent with our members and it has been a pleasure to work with the chairs of the network over the years. I am sure the network’s brilliant chair, Ifti Majid, will continue to support the network to go from strength to strength and I am delighted that I will still be connected to the NHS Confederation as a member myself.”

Recruitment plans for Sean’s successor at the NHS Confederation will begin early in the new year.