A HOSPITAL boss is finally off - leaving behind a closed down A&E and a trust which is still millions of pounds in the red.

Dr Chris Streather, chief executive of South London Healthcare Trust which runs Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Queen Mary's and the Pru, made the announcement in a memo to staff today (June 14).

The boss, who took up his post in 2009 when the trust was formed, is leaving south east London behind and taking his skills to the new national Academic Health Science Network.

His memo announced that "not without considerable sadness", he would be leaving the trust next month.

It said: "We have started to deliver consistently on access to treatment, and I am confident we have the team in place to make this sustainable.

"There are obviously considerable financial challenges still to be met, much of that is within our own gift to deliver, and we have well thought through and publicised plans for this."

He also praised staff for their "unprecedented improvements in the quality of care".

The most controversial part of his regime saw the closure of Sidcup's A&E department, blamed on the need to improve safety rather than financial considerations.

News Shopper campaigned last year for him to resign and, just last month, campaigners carried coffins through the grounds of Queen Elizabeth Hospital calling for a change in management.

Helen Ellis, whose Patient Action Group organised that protest, said of the news: "It's good riddance to bad rubbish.

"The one who needs to follow now is hospital director Roger Smith."

Trust Chairman John Ballard said: "I would like to thank Chris for the dedication he has shown to local patients in the past three years which has contributed to very significant improvements in the quality of care, including one of the lowest mortality and infection rates in the country.

"This has been a tremendous achievement for our local hospitals."

Orpington MP Jo Johnson said: "I wish Chris well in his new role, and look forward to working with his successor to continue driving up standards, putting SLHT on a sustainable financial footing and ending uncertainty over the future of Orpington Hospital to ensure there is no loss of high-quality, locally-based healthcare in Orpington.”

Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire said: "Whilst Chris Streather and I have had some lively disagreements over local health issues, I have never doubted his personal commitment to the NHS and his strong sense of public service. I wish him well with his new role."

A spokesman for the trust said Dr Streather's replacement would be announced "shortly".