A chief executive overseeing major cuts at Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals has resigned weeks before a decision on whether to scrap 150 jobs.

Mark Easton stepped down from the role yesterday morning but the hospitals trust only confirmed the news this afternoon.

The CEO’s decision to walk away comes in the middle of significant discussions over a possible merger with the Royal Free London NHS Trust.

Barnet and Chase Farm is also consulting on plans to cut 150 administration jobs in a bid to slash its budget.

Staff at Barnet Hospital told the Times Series morale is at rock bottom with the latest announcement.

One worker, who did not want to be named, said: “The rumours have been going round for a few days. We don’t know whether it is because of the potential job losses or not.

“The atmosphere at the hospital is terrible and everyone is now just waiting to hear what will happen next.

“We need to know what our future is – it is affecting staff across the board in all departments. He implemented all of these cuts and now he’s gone.”

The trust announced this afternoon that Mary Joseet, director of planning, performance and partnership, will act as CEO until an appoinment is made.

In a statement, a spokesman said: “As the business case for capital works at Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals has been produced and the strategic outline case for the transaction with the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust has been submitted, Mark Easton has agreed that it is an appropriate time for him to step down from his role as chief executive.

“Alternative arrangements are being made, with particular emphasis on supporting the trust strategically over what will be a period of significant change.

“Baroness Wall, chairman of Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust and the trust board are in discussion with the Strategic Health Authority, NHS London, and the NHS Trust Development Authority in making the alternative arrangements.”