The chief executive of an integrated health and social care trust has announced she is taking early retirement, following the death of her husband.

Mairead McAlinden will leave Torbay and South Devon Foundation Trust after spending nearly three years in her post.

She joined the trust from the Southern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland.

Mrs McAlinden had been on compassionate leave this year, and her husband Martin died last week.

In a message to staff she said: “Martin and I came to Devon with such excitement about starting a new stage in our lives, but with a little trepidation because it was such a leap into the unknown – we need not have worried.

“You welcomed us with open arms and kind hearts, showing us friendship and guiding us into the Devon way of life that we so enjoyed.

“I have such happy memories, and knowing that Martin spent his last years in a place he loved and with such lovely people is a comfort beyond measure.”

Mrs McAlinden steered the trust through the aftermath of a merger between Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care Trust and South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust.  

She moved the £402m income organisation from a “requires improvement” to “good” rating from the Care Quality Commission.

The trust’s emergency department went from “inadequate” to “good” in 15 months under her stewardship.

Trust chair Richard Ibbotson said Mrs McAlinden left an “extraordinarily positive legacy” to the trust.

Recruitment for a new chief executive is underway. Liz Davenport will continue in her role as interim chief executive.

The trust provides acute, community, and social care services.