AN NHS Trust chief executive is retiring after more than 30 years in the service.

Dr Hayley Richards has been part of the NHS for 33 years, and joined the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust in 2006 as a consultant psychiatrist.

And her career in the AWP continued to progress as she became medical director in 2013, and was finally appointed as chief executive in 2016.

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Dr Richards said it was an "absolute privilege" to be part of the AWP and is "extremely proud" of the work achieved by the team, adding: “When I started as chief executive in 2016 some of my main aims were to help us re-establish the confidence we deserved to have in the services we provide, to increase clinical leaders, to have senior managers and frontline staff work together more closely and to improve quality."

Dr Richards will be leaving the NHS at the end of May this year.

She added: “I leave the NHS at a time of great challenge and opportunity and I will watch with hope and optimism that true parity of esteem is achieved for mental health service users.”

AWP’s chairwoman, Charlotte Hitchings, said: “I would like to express my personal appreciation and thanks to Hayley for her commitment, passion and drive to AWP and mental health.

"Thanks to Hayley’s leadership we are in a good position to take on the challenges that lie ahead and build on productive relationships with our partners to deliver excellent mental healthcare that puts our service users, carers and families at the heart.”

AWP's board are keen to recruit a new chief executive as soon as possible and will publish further information soon.