The chair of a troubled West Midlands trust has resigned but said the organisation had begun to see improvements after years of difficulties.

Caragh Merrick has been chair at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust since September 2016, a time during which the organisation has struggled with performance, leadership and finances.

Caragh Merrick

Caragh Merrick will ‘leave the trust in a stronger position’

A trust statement said, over her tenure, Ms Merrick had “stabilised the board and begun the process of building an effective senior leadership team at the trust” – including the appointment of Michelle McKay as a permanent chief executive last year.

Ms Merrick said: “While there is still a long way to go, I believe that the trust has begun its improvement journey. Having laid the foundations, I feel the time is right for a new chair to take over and lead the board in meeting the challenges ahead.”

The trust is rated inadequate and in quality special measures. However, a Care Quality Commission report in January noted leadership improvements since Ms McKay’s arrival.

Financially the trust has continued to struggle, with a forecast outturn for 2017-18 of a £56.3m deficit, which is £26.3m behind plan.

While there were some signs of improvement in accident and emergency performance this winter, with fewer 12 hour breaches, the trust was still among the worst performers against the four hour target and for ambulance delays.

Ms McKay said: “I would like to thank Caragh for her inspiring leadership and her passion and commitment to local hospital services and the wider community of Worcestershire.”

NHS Improvement regional delivery and improvement director Jeff Worrall said: “We would like to thank Caragh for all the hard work she has put in as chair of the trust. She has stabilised the board during a difficult period and appointed a substantive leadership team. She leaves the trust in a stronger position to address the challenges it still faces.”

Ms Merrick will leave at the end of April with deputy chair Mark Yates stepping in as interim until a permanent replacement is found.