The chair of a troubled trust has stepped down with immediate effect just weeks before a crucial inspection.

The resignation of Shena Winning, who has been chair of Medway Foundation Trust for just over two years, was announced on Friday. Chief executive Lesley Dwyer is currently in Australia, where her daughter is about to have a baby, and she is expected back in early November.

Non-executive director Martin Jamieson is taking over as interim chair while a new chair is recruited. Mr Jamieson has been on the board since 2010.

The trust is due to be inspected by the CQC next month. It has been in special measures for over three years and is rated inadequate – but the trust was hoping that recent signs of improvement would be reflected in a better rating.

Ms Winning said: “Having been chair of the trust through some of its most challenging times, I feel that I have taken my work at Medway as far as I can. When I took over as chair of the trust in September 2014 it was in a very difficult position, as the CQC visit last August confirmed.

“Having dedicated my time to the welfare of our patients, the relationship with our community and stakeholders and having identified and secured the services of a new chief executive, I believe that now is the time to refresh the continuing recovery with a new chair.

“It has been a difficult time for the trust, but staff are pulling together and things have improved significantly. It is a tribute to the trust’s staff and volunteers that we have been able to make such progress. I am confident that things will only continue to improve and that the people of Medway will have the health services that they are entitled to expect.”

Ms Dwyer said: “I want to pay tribute to Shena’s significant achievement as chair of the trust. With her determination to ensure the delivery of a quality service to the patients and the local community, she has seen us through a stormy period and we are grateful to her and thank her for her total commitment.”