The chief executive of Burton Hospitals Foundation Trust has resigned after steering the trust out of special measures last October.

Helen Ashley has been an executive director at the trust in east Staffordshire since 2006 and was appointed chief executive in 2009.

Local newspaper the Burton Daily Mail has reported that senior colleagues at the trust were surprised by her announcement.

Brendan Brown, chief nurse and chief operating officer, will become acting chief executive when Ms Ashley leaves at the end of the month.

The trust will work with Monitor to appoint an interim chief executive ahead of a permanent replacement.

Ms Ashley said: ”This has been a difficult decision for me, and not one I have taken lightly. But I feel now is the right time for me to take the next step professionally, as I leave a trust that has successfully overcome considerable challenges and that is poised to enter a period of opportunity and change post-special measures. I’m proud to say I have led a trust where staff are empowered to make a positive difference to people’s care, and where the local communities of Burton, Lichfield and Tamworth are supported.”

The trust was taken out of special measures last year and is working to secure its long term future through networked arrangements with University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust in Stoke and Derby Teaching Hospitals FT.