• Kathy Byrne to step down from Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust
  • Trust was put in special measures in October 2017 
  • Her departure leaves the trust without a permanent CEO and chair

The chief executive of a trust with “longstanding” patient safety concerns has resigned.

Kathy Byrne will stand down from her position at Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, which has been heavily criticised by the Care Quality Commission in the last year and is rated “inadequate”.

Ms Byrne joined the trust as chief executive in April 2016.

In her statement yesterday, she said the trust was put into special measures “not long after I was appointed”.

The trust was placed in special measures in October 2017, after a CQC inspection found patients had died waiting for treatment, bullying concerns, and that the management of serious incidents and never event reporting was not good enough.

During winter 2018, the trust had one of the worst accident and emergency performances in the country, although it rapidly improved its performance this spring.

However, in April the CQC warned the trust it was not making improvements fast enough.

Trust chair Jim McKenna resigned in May.

In her statement, Ms Byrne said “a lot of improvements have been made”.

She said she had “significantly improved relationships with the wider health and care system” and was “confident” that the foundations were in place for the trust to move out of special measures.

“This is a good time for me to hand over to a new chief executive who can build on the work that has been done since I have been here”, Ms Byrne said.

Ms Byrne, who joined the trust after leading health organisations in her native Australia, will work on a “major research project about communications and engagement in the NHS”.

Dr Mairi McLean, acting chair of the trust, said: “Kathy has gained much credibility and respect both within the local health system and in the trust where she has tackled some longstanding areas that needed improvement.”

The trust said it would make an announcement about Ms Byrne’s replacement “in due course”.