WORKFORCE: Julie Burgess, the chief executive of the troubled Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals Foundation Trust in Berkshire, has resigned.

A statement from the trust on 21 September said her decision was due to “health reasons”.

Chair Christopher Langley paid tribute to her work, saying: “Julie’s drive and leadership has helped transform the performance of the trust and ensured continued high quality of patient care.

“The board is very sorry to lose her but understands her decision to leave. We wish her all the very best for the future.”

Interim deputy chief executive John Wood will take on the role of acting chief executive with immediate effect until a new appointment is made. The trust was due to begin the process of making a permanent appointment this week.

Jon Tomlinson, previously the trust’s transformation director, will become chief operating officer.

Ms Burgess had last month faced calls to resign from HSJ readers who worked at the trust, after it reported an “extremely adverse” financial trend. Readers’ comments included personal criticism of her leadership as well as suggestions she could not be held entirely to blame for the organisation’s difficulties.

The trust is also subject to a reconfiguration programme for acute services in the South Central area. Ascot’s Heatherwood Hospital was not mentioned in the Care for the Future consultation document, published on 8 August, although Wexham Park was identified as one of three “main acute sites”.

Ms Burgess is the second board level resignation at the trust this year. HSJ understands that commercial director Satish Mathur resigned in early 2011 following a heart attack.