Baroness Barbara Young has quite her role as Chairman of the Care Quality Commission following escalating rows over hospital standards and an alleged dispute with the health secretary over regulation.

In a statement, Baroness Young explained her shock decision to throw in the towel as: “Having overseen the major task of creating a single regulator for health and social care and pointed it in the right direction, I have decided that it will be for others to take it forward.”

But the move follows a week of heavy criticism for the CQC, after an unannounced inspection at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust uncovered a catalogues of horrors – including blood stained floors and soiled beds and significantly higher death rates than average – just a short time after the regulator had branded its services as ‘good’.

In addition, public-private think tank Dr Foster Intelligence’s published its Hospital Guide 2009, which found that 12 hospital trusts are significantly underperforming despite satisfactory ratings by the regulator, and that more than 5,000 patients admitted to hospital with low-risk problems actually ended up losing their lives last year.

Various sources are also claiming that Baroness Young and healthy secretary Andy Burnham were at loggerheads over the effectiveness of the current annual Health Check rating system of hospitals, which she was reportedly keen to improve.

“I believe Barbara Young also wanted to end the flawed ‘Healthcheck’ assessment system and to have better enforcement powers alongside the registration system from April,” Shadow health secretary Andrew Lanslwy told Times Online, and he claimed “her decision to leave before April demonstrates the breakdown that has happened between Labour ministers and their flagship regulator”.

Baroness Young will step down from her position in February next year, at which point Dame Jo Williams will take over until a permanent successor is appointed.