The boss of the ambulance service in the North West has announced he is leaving on health grounds.
Bob Williams, who has been chief executive for the past three years, is to take early retirement in six months time.
Mr Williams, who has spent more than 30 years in the service, will leave on March 31 next year.
And in a letter he has personally thanked all North West Ambulance’s 4,900 staff for their “fantastic dedication and delivery of a compassionate and caring service.”
The former Royal Navy man, who lists karate, fell-running and riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle among his interests, took charge on an acting basis in 2012 when predecessor Darren Hurrell left in unexplained circumstances.
It emerged Mr Hurrell had not been working at NWAS for seven months prior to his departure.
Mr Williams was handed the job permanently 12 months later and has presided over a difficult period for the service trying to balance funding cuts with a dramatic increase in emergency calls, now totalling almost 1.2m a year in the North West.
NWAS has around 1,000 ambulances and operates from more than 100 stations across the region.
In his letter to staff, he said: “I am writing to inform you that I am taking early retirement from the Trust on 31st of March for personal health reasons. It has been a real privilege to work alongside you all in serving our patients in the North West.
“Whilst the future is one of continued change in our service delivery and public sector reconfiguration, I am confident that NWAS will meet these challenges effectively and will remain a service we can all be proud of.”