THE borough's MPs have welcomed news that Dudley Group's under-fire chairman is leaving amid ongoing concerns about safety at Russells Hall Hospital.

The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed Jenni Ord, chairman of the trust, will be moving on by the end of April after three-and-a-half years in the role.

A statement issued by the trust, which has a 'requires improvement' rating from the CQC, says she is stepping down "to regain a better work life balance".

All four Dudley borough MPs - Mike Wood, Margot James, James Morris and Ian Austin - had called on Ms Ord to resign last autumn in the wake of serious failings at the Dudley hospital's emergency department but at the time she stressed she remained committed to her role.

Today, however, she said in a statement that she believes she can no longer commit the time to the post.

She said: "Taking everything into account I do feel it is the right time for me to regain a better work life balance and to provide an opportunity for a successor to carry forward the future development of the trust.

“It has been a privilege to work with everyone in Dudley and I have enjoyed each and every day, both the highs and the lows.

“I appreciate the fact that I have had the support of Board colleagues, governors and staff over the last three years and this, above all, is what I value most.”

Dudley South MP Mike Wood said of the news of her departure: "Over the last few months my colleagues and I have made no secret of the fact that we believe fresh ideas and fresh leadership is needed at the trust, demonstrated by the joint letter we sent last September calling for Jenni Ord to step down.

“The serious and continued failings at Russells Hall’s A&E department over the last 12 months cannot be ignored and accountability must start at the top.

“This is clearly the right decision for Dudley's hospitals as well as for Jenni personally.

"I look forward to working with the new chairman as they bring in the new leadership that the trust needs to deliver the consistently high quality of care that local people deserve and the hospital's staff care so passionately about delivering."

Stourbridge MP Margot James added: "I believe Jenni has made the right decision, albeit belatedly.

"Jenni has worked hard for the trust over the years, but for whatever reason she was not able to provide the independent leadership needed to steer the trust on to the right path after the first CQC inspection a year ago.

"My sense, however, is that the problems with the senior leadership team at Russell’s Hall Hospital do not begin and end with the chair."

Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris also said: “It has been clear for some time that changes at the top of Russells Hall are required to see the reform that we all want to see to ensure the hospital is providing world class health care. 

"I welcome Jenni’s decision to move on, but also stress that this is just the first step in the changes that Russells Hall needs.”

Dudley North MP Ian Austin added: "I’m grateful for the work Jenni has done in Dudley but I think this is the right decision. 

"Staff at Russells Hall are working flat out, and hospitals around the country are under huge pressure.

"There’s a recruitment crisis with 100,000 vacancies in the NHS, A&E departments have been in crisis and people are waiting longer for treatment, but I am worried that the problems at Russells Hall go deeper than that and I thought the hospital needs new leadership to sort it out.”

It is expected that a new chairman will be appointed and Ms Ord will handover to her successor ahead of her departure by the end of April.

The borough's four MPs had called for Ms Ord's resignation after the CQC took action against the trust following an inspection on June 28 last year amid continuing concerns about the safety of the A&E department, which is rated inadequate.