The chief executive of Pilgrims Hospices has said he will leave at the end of June after the Kent-based charity dropped plans to close one of its wards following widespread public criticism.
About 18,000 people signed a petition opposing plans to close the hospice’s inpatient ward in Canterbury, which the charity said was no longer fit for purpose. Hospice care would be moved to hospitals and the homes of patients instead.
But after abandoning the plans earlier this month, Pilgrims Hospices said it was time for Steve Auty, who has led Pilgrims Hospices for the past nine years, to "hand on the leadership baton for the next phase of development".
A Facebook page called Save Pilgrims Hospice Canterbury attracted 13,000 'likes'.
"Steve would like to give his heartfelt thanks to all of the staff, volunteers and supporters," the charity said in a statement. "On a personal level, he is proud and privileged to have led Pilgrims and remains passionate about the need for hospice care to be widely available to the people of east Kent, both now and in the future."
A spokesman for Pilgrims Hospices declined to comment further.
Under Auty’s tenure, referrals to the charity increased from 1,600 to 2,300 a year, annual income increased from £7m to 11m, and the number of Pilgrims Hospice shops doubled.
The charity, which also runs hospices in Ashford and Margate, had an income of about £12m and expenditure of about £12.7m in 2012/13.