Tim Smart, the interim chair of troubled Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, has resigned with immediate effect, citing “personal reasons”.

Smart’s resignation comes just 3 weeks after Southern Health’s chief executive, Katrina Percy, also quit her post saying her position had become untenable due to ongoing personal media attention. However, Percy was given another job at the trust – specifically created for her – and on the same money as she received as chief executive.

Southern Health has been under fire for some time after a number of failings were uncovered. For instance, in December 2015, a report compiled by Mazars at the request of NHS England found that the trust failed to adequately investigate hundreds of unexplained deaths – many of those were people with learning disabilities. 

In addition, in April, Care Quality Commission reported serious concerns about the safety of patients with mental health problems and learning disabilities in some locations operated by Southern Health – despite it being previously warned to improve.

Southern Health also accepted full responsibility for the death of Connor Sparrowhawk and admitted that it was negligent and violated Connor’s and his family’s human rights in June.

Smart himself came in for criticism in June, when, after undertaking a comprehensive review, he decided that Percy should keep her job as chief executive. This decision was slammed by the family of Connor Sparrowhawk, as well as by Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive of Care England.

In a short written statement, the board of Southern Health said: “Tim Smart has taken the decision to resign from his position as Interim Chair, with immediate effect, for personal reasons. Since his appointment in May this year Tim has made a considerable contribution to the Trust, driving through changes necessary to improve our services. We would like to thank him for his time and dedication.

“We are working with NHS Improvement to appoint a new Interim chair as soon as possible. In the meantime, Malcolm Berryman, as deputy chair, will ensure that the duties of the Trust Board are carried out.”