The chief executive of University Hospital of North Staffordshire Trust has resigned after six years in the post.

In a move that has been discussed at senior levels of the NHS since November Julia Bridgewater wll be stepping down at the end of the month “to pursue new opportunities”.

Jim Birrell, currently interim chief executive of University Hospitals of Leicester Trust, will be taking over in an interim role.

North Staffordshire has encounted significant problems with accident and emergency waits.

The trust pointed to numerous achievements during Ms Bridgewater’s tenure including slashed infection rates and a ranking in the top 20 per cent nationally for patient satisfaction.

Ms Bridgewater said: “It has been a privilege to lead my hometown hospital to a position where we have the excellent facilities and modern services which the people of North Staffordshire deserve.

“There is so much I am proud of – our award-winning heart failure, stroke and elderly care services, our record on reducing hospital-acquired infections, our partnership with Keele University to develop our teaching and research, and the Healthcare Careers and Skills Academy to develop apprenticeships for local school-leavers. However, it is the right time for me to move on and I will be leaving at the end of January to pursue new opportunities.”

Trust chair John MacDonald said: “Julia is one of the few chief executives who can truly claim to have transformed the hospital they lead. Through a period of change, she has put quality of care at the centre of everything we do. I am sure that all friends of the trust would join me in wishing Julia every success with the next stage of her NHS career.”