WORKFORCE: The chief executive of under fire University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust has quit.

Tony Halsall announced his departure from the trust today after five years in the post.

His departure comes just weeks after Monitor intervened to install a new chair at the trust following three separate reviews by the regulator that revealed a catalogue of leadership and governance failures.

Governance was deemed “inadequate”, “significant risks” were uncovered in maternity wards and a backlog of 14,000 patients with overdue follow-up appointments was uncovered. The trust only won foundation status in 2010.

Mr Halsall said: “This has been an extremely difficult time for me personally and professionally.

“I have always been totally committed to driving through the changes that are essential in order to ensure high quality patient care for the patients of South Cumbria and North Lancashire.

“I believe that considerable progress has been made in recent months to address a number of issues the trust faces but I recognise that it is now appropriate for the lead to be taken by a new chief executive.”

The trust’s interim chair Sir David Henshaw paid tribute to Mr Halsall’s dedication to the job.

“Over the last five years Tony Halsall has led the trust through difficult times showing considerable loyalty and integrity,” Sir David said.

“He has often found himself in the position of taking responsibility for issues when others should have been alongside him.”

A new interim chief executive will be named in two weeks. Until then the trust’s deputy chief executive Tim Bennett will act as chief executive.

Earlier this month Mr Halsall was ordered by Monitor to appoint a chief operating officer and a turnaround director.

The intervention came after a review team sent into the trust by Monitor in November 2011 reported governance was “inadequate” and “below the standard that we would expect in an NHS foundation trust”.

The team reported that the board did not receive adequate information about care quality and risk for it to ensure problems were identified and managed. The trust’s quality metrics were focused on “externally set targets” rather than continuous improvement. Messages reported to the board were “sometimes diluted”, and it was not clear who was held to account for risk management at divisional level.

Mr Halsall joined the NHS in 1980 as a nurse, moving into management in the 1990s.