THE chairman of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has resigned, 20months after taking up the job.
Ms Merrick, a county resident for more than 30 years and an accountant by profession, took over the post from Harry Turner in September 2016.
At the time of her takeover the Trust had seemed to lurch from crisis to crisis under an embattled management.
In its place she offered a more ‘open and transparent’ health trust, saying: “Under my leadership I am taking steps to ensure we engage with the public and stakeholders more regularly and more effectively, to ensure that information is made available in a timely and transparent manner.”
It was a promise she certainly made good in Health Trust board meetings, welcoming questions from members of the press and public.
And while she steadied the ship and brought in an effective management team, the Trust continued to struggle with the level of debt it was running up – currently more than £57million for this financial year alone.
WAHT found itself caught between the need to make savings while facing rising costs, cut its dependency on agency staff and still hit Government targets.
Just last month an independent report by Carnall Farrar put in black and white that hundreds of people were facing 12-hour waits in A&E every month at Worcestershire Royal.
The hospital it said, had too few beds to cope, with occupancy rates close to 100 per cent, and nowhere in the wider community to send those patients fit to leave but still in need of care.
She said: “While there is still a long way to go, I believe the Trust has begun its improvement journey.
“Having laid the foundations, I feel the time is right for a new Chairman to take over and lead the Board in meeting the challenges ahead.”
Mark Yates, the Trust’s current deputy chairman, will step up until a new chairman is appointed.
The Trust’s Chief Executive, Michelle McKay, said: “On behalf of the board and staff across our hospitals, 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.
“I would also like to thank her personally for the support she has given me since I joined the Trust.
“We wish her all the very best for the future.
“I am also very grateful to Mark Yates for stepping up to the role of chairman while Caragh’s successor is appointed.”