The chief executive of a large Midlands hospital trust has announced he is stepping down.

Staff at Heart of England Foundation Trust were told today that chief executive Dr Mark Newbold was resigning.

The news comes after the trust had a condition placed on its license by Monitor on 24 October, citing poor performance on waiting times and mortality.

Mark Newbold

Mark Newbold said he wished he had ‘focused earlier on staff engagement’

In his resignation letter, published on his blog, Dr Newbold said overcrowding was the worst problem his trust faced and if he had managed to solve it he “would not be writing this letter.”

He wrote: “Overcrowding is the singular problem that [Heart of England] has, and I regret that I have not managed to solve this on a sustained basis. It is, as you are aware, responsible either directly or indirectly for most of the main missed targets, and indeed our mortality rates and poor staff morale.

“The plans we have in place are the right ones, our strategy is forward looking and in keeping with expected healthcare trends, and our new structure brings board and front line much closer together. All of these will bring improvement in time, but current performance remains challenging, and I think the timescale for improvement will be longer than the regulators wish to see.”

He added: “[The trust] has now changed considerably, but it is clear there is much more to do. Whilst we are now doing so, I wish I had focused earlier on staff engagement – it was a mistake to believe that tackling the constant congestion in the hospital would, of itself, be the solution to this. The trust now needs wholesale transformation if it is to deliver the best standards of care on a consistent basis in the future, and I know the new board is ready to lead this.”

In his letter to staff trust chair Les Lawrence praised Dr Newbold’s “honesty and integrity, as demonstrated by his letter” and “the strength of his commitment and service to the trust”.

Dr Newbold is chair of NHS Confederation’s hospital’s forum.

On his blog he describes attending a workshop on how medical directors could be supported to take chief executive roles.

He said: “I concentrated on the personal challenges – the emotional impact of such an exposed role with huge responsibility, and the resilience needed to stay strong without becoming dispassionate. As I was speaking, recent events were going through my mind, and I felt this would not be an authentic diary if I failed to reflect on these.”