THE chairman of Salisbury District Hospital has retired from the role after nine years, and said he leaves “with enormous pride in the place”.

Luke March, who retired as chairman for Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust on Tuesday, took over the role after five years as deputy chairman for Barts Health NHS Trust in London.

Mr March said the important aspects of his role in Salisbury have included “consistent vigilance” over patient safety and patient experience issues and focus on robust governance, financial performance, recruitment, retention and motivation of staff, and relationships with stakeholders.

He said he has been “overwhelmed” by the generosity and support of the community, which includes 700 hospital volunteers. “It has been the most amazing time,” he said.

“Over the nine years that I’ve been there things have been improving dramatically.

“When I first came to Salisbury the waiting time was approaching nine months, but now 90 per cent of patients are seen within two months.”

He added: “It’s interesting to have the opportunity to see what other hospitals are like and Salisbury is extremely lucky to have the place it has. Salisbury has such wonderful skills: hips, knees and maternity are some of the things we do brilliantly, and special services like burns, plastic surgery and spinal injury. It makes it even more special, and attracts people to us.”

For the first six years of his time in Salisbury, Mr March was also group compliance regulatory director for Royal Mail. And alongside 25 years of working as a non-executive director for the NHS, Mr March has worked in a number of senior roles in the private sector, including BT and Lloyds TSB. “That experience of public and private works rather well,” he said.

“It makes life much more rounded.” Mr March, who lives in Great Durnford, is also a lay canon at Salisbury Cathedral, trustee to a number of charities, and chairman of the National Churches Trust.

Chairmen of the hospital can spend a maximum of nine years in the post, and Mr March said he would like to take on another NHS role in the future. Taking over as chairman of Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust is Nick Marsden, who was previously deputy chairman at Southampton University Hospital.