THE chief executive of Oxfordshire’s hospital authority is to retire after five years in the post.

Sir Jonathan Michael will step down from Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, it was announced yesterday.

The trust is one of the biggest in England and runs Oxford’s John Radcliffe and Churchill hospitals, the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and Banbury’s Horton Hospital.

He first qualified as a doctor and joined the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust in April 2010 from the same role at London’s Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals NHS Trust.

In November 2011 he oversaw the merger of the trust with Oxford’s Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS Trust to form the present authority.

During his tenure demand on trust services continued to rise, particularly in A&E, putting pressure on waiting time targets.

The trust’s biggest ever Care Quality Commission inspection, in February, rated it “good” overall but said the JR “requires improvement” with concerns like staff shortages, lack of beds and long waiting times.

Trust chairwoman Dame Fiona Caldicott told yesterday’s meeting of the trust board: “It is my duty as chairman to say that Sir Jonathan has notified of his wish to retire from the NHS by the middle of next year.”

The news “has provided us with the opportunity with which to plan that process and conduct a thorough national and international search which will begin very soon”, she said.

“We must appoint the right person who is capable of building on all the achievements of our chief executive and can lead our continuing success as a trust”.

An appointment is hoped for by March.

Sir Jonathan, who last year was on a salary band of £215,000-220,000, declined to comment.

Oxford East Labour MP Andrew Smith said: “Sir Jonathan has done a good job in very difficult circumstances.”

Meeting demand, maintaning quality, providing new treatments and saving cash “is one of the toughest managerial jobs in the NHS” he said.

Banbury MP Sir Tony Baldry said Sir Jonathan had been “outstanding” adding: “He has managed to make significant savings in the running costs of the trust while at the same time creating some 400 new jobs in the trust, mostly more doctors and nurses.”

  •  SIR Jonathan’s tenure as chief executive has seen him encounter the expected ups and downs that come with running one of England’s biggest and most complex hospital authorities.

A key issue for him has been the move towards foundation trust status which would give the trust greater independence from Government over issues like finance, such as being able to retain surpluses and borrow more.

The bid was put on hold so concerns raised by a major February inspection by the Care Quality Commission such as staffing and waiting lists at the JR could be addressed.

It hopes to have the status by April 1 next year.