NHS Digital chief executive Andy Williams has retired, leaving the helm as the organisation embarks on a fresh round of pushing digital transformation in the NHS.

In a statement, Williams said the decision was “very difficult” but he was confident the organisation’s work would continue under new leadership.

“I'm confident that NHS Digital will successfully deliver the personalised health and care agenda.”

No specific reason was given for the retirement, which takes effect at the end of March, or whether Williams would move on to another role.

Williams has been in the role at NHS Digital, and previously at the Health and Social Care Information Centre, since April 2014.

Last month, in an interview with Digital Health News, he spoke about how the organisation have finally started to recover from the long shadow of the National Programme for IT.

He also said that he saw NHS Digital role much more as supporting individual NHS organisations to digitally transform rather than dictating from the centre.

“We are not doing a top down monolithic approach. It’s incremental. We are not trying to force things on local organisations.”

Williams informed the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and his chairman, Noel Gordon, of his decision last month.

Hunt thanked Williams for his service and said he had had a “tireless commitment to improving the quality of health and social care for patients through the power of data and technology” during his tenure.

Gordon said: “NHS Digital has made huge strides during Andy's tenure and he is leaving the organisation stronger, more confident and better equipped to tackle the digital agenda to 2020.”

Recruitment for a new chief executive is underway.

If a candidate is not found by 1 April, NHS Digital chief operating officer Rob Shaw will act as interim chief executive.