TRUST chief executive Jan Bergman has shocked staff by quitting the Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester.

A statement from the Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said that he had retired early to pursue a career outside the NHS.

Trust chairman Robin SeQueira said late yesterday: “Jan retires today and leaves with our best wishes and thanks.

“Since joining us in March 2006, Jan has played a pivotal role in leading the trust to foundation status.

“In addition he has presided over the rise in the hospital’s excellent reputation and clinical performance.

“He has also driven the quality agenda and many of the improvements he has made will serve as a lasting legacy of his significant contribution to the development of the trust.”

Director of nursing Alison Tong has taken on the role of acting chief executive.

Mr SeQueira said: “Alison Tong has kindly agreed to assume the role of acting chief executive and assumes all leadership duties and responsibilities immediately.

“I have every confidence that the trust continues to be in good hands.”

Derek Julian, a governor of Dorset County Hospital's foundation trust, said: “It’s a complete shock.

“That is a severe loss to Dorchester hospital.

“He’s been personally responsible for the improvement to that hospital in the past three years.”