• Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust CEO to retire
  • Will leave in May 2019
  • Trust says it will seek a replacement as soon as possible

The chief executive of a mental health trust in the South West has announced her retirement after 13 years at the trust.

Hayley Richards, a psychiatrist by training, has been chief executive at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust since 2016. Before that, she was the medical director from 2013.

In announcing her retirement, Dr Richards said: “When I started as chief executive in 2016 some of my main aims were to help us re-establish the confidence we deserved to have in the services we provide, to increase clinical leaders, to have senior managers and frontline staff work together more closely and to improve quality.

“There have been many challenges along the way, of course, mainly around funding and service demand, and these will continue in the coming years.

“I leave the NHS at a time of great challenge and opportunity and I will watch with hope and optimism that true parity of esteem is achieved for mental health service users.”

Trust chair, Charlotte Hitchings, said: “Thanks to Hayley’s leadership we are in a good position to take on the challenges that lie ahead and build on productive relationships with our partners to deliver excellent mental healthcare.”

The trust provides mental health services across a wide swathe of South West England and is rated as “requires improvement” by the Care Quality Commission.

HSJ has reported concerns raised about the trust’s services in Bristol in recent years, including the closure of an inpatient unit due to patient ill-treatment and gaps in community mental healthcare in the city.

Dr Richards will retire at the end of May and the trust said it would be seeking to replace her as soon as possible.