The chief executive of the troubled East Midlands Ambulance Service is to stand down, HSJ has learned.

Paul Phillips, who has worked in NHS ambulance services since 1975, is expected to announce he will take early retirement later this afternoon.

Deputy chief executive David Farrelly has been running the trust since Mr Phillips went on annual leave at the beginning of April, when it was announced he was considering taking early retirement.

However, Paul Brown, secretary to the EMAS branch of Unison, told HSJ it had come as a surpise to learn Mr Phillips was thinking of leaving. He said Mr Phillips would be “sadly missed”.

Last month the trust’s lead commissioner NHS Derbyshire announced it was planning to fine EMAS £5m for failing to meet national performance targets.

In 2010-11 ambulance trusts were required to reach 75 per cent of Category A life threatening calls within eight minutes and 95 per cent of Category B serious but no-life threatening calls within 19 minutes. The trust achieved 72.4 per cent for Category A and 88.3 per cent for Category B.