The boss of the troubled Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow is set to step down from his job next month after announcing his retirement.

Phil Morley, chief executive of the Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust, will walk away from the role after three years.

Trevor Smith has been appointed as the trust’s acting chief executive and will oversee care at the hospital from April.

Mr Morley said: “It has been a great honour and privilege to work as chief executive. I can think of no better way of ending my 35-year career in the NHS.

“The care and affection staff show to our patients and to each other astonishes me. I urge them to continue this great work.”

Princess Alexandra was placed into special measures following an inspection by healthcare watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last year.

Urgent and emergency services, critical care and end of life care were all rated as inadequate, while medical care including older people’s care, surgery, services for children and young people are all said to require improvement.

Inspectors found there were “significant capacity issues” at the hospital and staff shortages meant wards struggled to cope with the number of patients.

Mr Morley was also involved in controversy during his time at the trust, when it was revealed he racked up a £50,000 bill on an NHS credit card at his previous job in charge of Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals trust.

It was found in 2014 the hospital boss had spent cash fine dining, luxury hotels and shopping at Waitrose.

Deborah Fielding, chief officer of West Essex CCG said: “Thank you to Phil for all his hard work and we wish him all the best for the future.

“The CCG will continue this close collaboration with acting trust chief executive Trevor Smith, as we continue to focus on future planning for PAH and the Sustainability and Transformation Plan”.