Page last updated at 15:22 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Welsh ambulance service chief to stand down

Alan Murray
Alan Murray was appointed chief executive in August 2006

The chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust is stepping down at the end of the month.

Alan Murray was appointed following the resignations of two of his predecessors in May and July 2006.

Mr Murray said he had taken the service as far as he could and although the foundations had been laid a lot of hard work remained to be done.

Welsh Assembly Government official, Elwyn Prince Morris, will take over as interim chief executive.

When Mr Murray took over the post in August 2006, 55.4% percent of urgent category A calls were being reached within an eight minutes, well below the 60% target.

By August last year, the equivalent figure was 64.6%, but problems have returned during the winter months with the last published results for December and January below 60%.

It is a high profile, high pressure job and I believe the time has now come to pass the baton to someone new
Alan Murray

Mr Murray said: "While strong foundations have been laid for the future, a lot of hard work remains to be done.

"I am proud of what our staff have achieved, but I believe that I have taken the trust as far as I can.

"It is a high profile, high pressure job and I believe the time has now come to pass the baton to someone new.

"I want to thank everybody who works for the Welsh Ambulance Service, staff and volunteers for their hard work and dedication. They fully deserve the confidence and admiration of the people of Wales."

Mr Murray spent seven years as chief executive of the ambulance service in Northern Ireland before moving to Wales in August 2006.

He was appointed at a time of crisis for the service. In the months before his appointment, two interim chief executives Roger Thayne and Anton van Dellen resigned.

Mr Thayne left after two months in the post, claiming the service was in "crisis".

Mr Murray has been under political pressure throughout his tenure to achieve change.

'Important contribution'

In June 2008, Health Minister Edwina Hart issued a warning that performance was still unacceptable, and had to improve within six months.

Last year, an independent audit report found the ambulance service was not being given enough money to run the emergency side of its work.

Stuart Fletcher, the chairman of the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, thanked Mr Murray for his "important contribution" during a crucial period in the history of the service.

"Our performance has improved considerably since he took the reins in 2006," he added.

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