The chief executive of a £700m-income acute trust has announced she is leaving for a new job in Canada.

Fiona Dalton will leave University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust by the end of March next year after four years in post.

She has accepted an offer to become chief executive of Providence Healthcare in Vancouver, a care provider which runs several hospitals and has an annual budget of around C$874m (£513m).

In an email thanking staff on Thursday Ms Dalton said her excitement at the new job was “tinged with sadness” over leaving UHS.

“Over the last four years I have felt so supported by the UHS family – whenever I felt daunted by the scale of the challenge, someone here said or did something which gave me the confidence and strength to keep going,” she wrote.

“I do not have the words to explain what a privilege it has been to be chief executive here. I absolutely believe that UHS will keep developing and going from strength to strength.”

In June the Care Quality Commission rated the trust as “good”, with “outstanding” ratings in both the well-led and caring domains.

Trust chair Peter Hollins said the board was “extremely sorry” to see Ms Dalton depart, and added the trust recognised the “fantastic” job she has done in her four years there.

David French, the trust’s chief financial officer, will be interim chief executive once Ms Dalton has left.

Mr Hollins said the search for a new chief executive will start early in 2018.