The head of the ambulance service in Epping Forest has resigned four months earlier than expected.

Geoffrey Harris OBE was appointed in May for a 12-month period but stepped down with immediate effect as interim chairman of the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) yesterday.

The decision has not been fully explained and comes three days after the EEAST headquarters was found to have failed in two of five areas assessed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

During four visits in December, the CQC found the trust to have failed to have implemented improvements needed to respond more quickly to people in potentially life threatening situations.

Inspectors also judged the EEAST to have insufficient numbers of suitably qualified staff to ensure national ambulance response times were met.

Dr Harris said: “I have immensely enjoyed working at the ambulance service with such dedicated staff.

“I feel that having recruited a new non-executive team and one of the most experienced ambulance chief executives in the country that it is the right time to bring in a new chair.”

EEAST chief executive Anthony Marsh said: “It is with great sadness that I learnt of Geoff Harris’ decision to stand down and I wish him all the best for the future.

"Geoff joined the Trust at the most challenging period of its history and has worked incredibly hard to both stabilise and reinvigorate the Board, providing strong leadership and expertise.”

The process for appointing Dr Harris’ replacement will start immediately by the NHS Trust Development Authority.