The busiest hospital trust in Sussex has appointed a new boss.

Matthew Kershaw takes over as chief executive of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust this spring.

Mr Kershaw was called in as a special administrator to the debt-ridden South London Healthcare NHS Trust last year, which was on the brink of redundancy and had gone into administration.

He recommended earlier this year that the London trust should be broken up, with other organisations taking over its services.

Brighton and Sussex has been trying to find a replacement for chief executive Duncan Selbie since he left in May, but Mr Kershaw’s appointment has been met with dismay by unions.

GMB regional organiser Rob Macey said: “The appointment of “axe man” Matthew Kershaw as chief executive is bad news for Brighton and bad news for patients who depend on NHS services.”

Mr Macey said Mr Kershaw’s report into the London trust recommended “sweeping cuts” such as the closure of accident and emergency departments, the loss of consultantled maternity units, the loss of jobs, the privatisation of NHS services and the selling-off of NHS assets.

He said: “As such, he will undoubtedly attempt to bring the Government’s cuts agenda to Brighton and that the public, patients and staff alike will need to stand together to defend our local NHS.”

One of Mr Kershaw’s new jobs will be to oversee the trust’s ambitious £420million project to redevelop the Royal Sussex County Hospital, which is still awaiting Treasury approval.

Brighton and Sussex chairman Julian Lee said: “Matthew’s track record demonstrates that he is an effective, visionary leader and undoubtedly the person to direct the next chapter in the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals story.”

Mr Kershaw said: “This is a crucial time for the trust and I look forward to working with patients, staff, the board and our key partners in the medical school and across Brighton and Sussex in leading the trust in its next stage of development.”

Chris Adcock will continue as acting chief executive until Mr Kershaw arrives.