The ranking, which was announced weeks before the two trusts are proposing to merge into University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, was decided by a high-powered judging panel. These included NHS England chief operating officer Amanda Pritchard, Care Quality Commission chief inspector of hospitals Ted Baker and Royal College of Physicians president Andrew Goddard.
Chiefs were judged on the performance of their organisations, their leadership style and their contribution to the wider health system during the pandemic.
Dame Marianne Griffiths, became the first woman to take the top spot in the 2018 rankings, and retained the number one spot in 2019. She came third in 2017.