WORKFORCE: Ursula Ward, the chief executive of Portsmouth Hospitals Trust, has resigned after leading the trust for 12 years.

The organisation gave no reason for her departure.

In a statement published on Friday, the trust said: “Under Ursula’s leadership we have always put the patient at the centre of everything we do here in Portsmouth, and we remain focussed on our patient centred care.

“Ursula has taken the decision to leave her position at Portsmouth Hospitals Trust, having successfully held the position of chief executive for 12 years.

“The board would like to thank Ursula for her valued contribution and dedication and wish her every success in the future.

”The search for a new chief executive will start immediately and in the immediate term arrangements have been made to appoint Tim Powell, director of workforce and organisational development, as interim chief executive.”

Ms Ward had been chief executive of Portsmouth Hospitals Trust for 12 years.

She first joined the trust in August 1999 as director of nursing and midwifery, before being appointed deputy chief executive in 2002.

Portsmouth has struggled on its accident and emergency performance in recent years.

In 2014-15 77.5 per cent of type one A&E attendances were treated and discharged or admitted within four hours, against a target of 95 per cent. This fell to 74.3 per cent in 2015-16, making Portsmouth the second worst performing trust in the country on the standard.

Meanwhile, the Care Quality Commission carried out an unannounced inspection of the trust’s accident and emergency services in February.