Baroness Barbara Young has quit her position as Care Quality Commission chair, HSJ has learned.
Baroness Young told health secretary Andy Burnham she was leaving last Thursday, the day a damning CQC inspection report was leaked to the media about poor standards at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust.
HSJ understands Baroness Young had a difficult meeting with Mr Burnham after the report was made public.
CQC sources are adamant that is not the reason for her departure.
She will be replaced on an interim basis by CQC board member and former Mencap chief executive Dame Jo Williams, who will start work in January. The two are expected to work jointly until Baroness Young steps down on 1 February.
NHS insiders have previously raised doubts over whether the former Labour peer, who later moved to the cross benches, would stay in post under a Conservative government, should Labour lose the general election.
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley has been vocal in his criticism of the CQC.
Hugh Taylor, DH permanent secretary, said: “Baroness Young has made a valuable contribution in leading the Care Quality Commission through their challenging first few months. This has been a mammoth task, bringing together for the first time the two health and social care regulators and setting them on a path to ensuring high quality and safe care everywhere that care is provided, from hospitals to private care homes. I wish her well for the future.”
Baroness Young was unavailable for comment.