Averil Dongworth, the chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), whose retirement was revealed yesterday, has said she has faced the most challenging three years of her career.

Ms Dongworth informed her employer of her retirement in October, but it was only made public yesterday.

The trust was placed in special measures in December after the Care Quality Commission raised concerns about patient safety at both King George Hospital in Goodmayes and Queen’s Hospital in Romford.

The report said leadership had failed to improve services despite previous warnings and inspectors found unsafe care in A&E departments at both hospitals, blaming a lack of full-time consultants and middle grade doctors.

The report said poor management of hospital capacity and discharge procedures were said to be putting patients’ lives at risk, however the hospitals were commended for their at-home care services and stroke treatment.

Ms Dongworth was appointed as chief executive in February 2011 on a yearly salary of £225,000 and welcomed the move to place the trust in special measures in order for it to receive more support.

She said: “The last three years have been the most challenging of my career and I am proud that the trust has made great strides since the hospital-wide CQC investigation in 2011.

“Maternity services are now consolidated at Queen’s Hospital and are fully compliant with CQC standards and the feedback from women is extremely positive.

“I believe the Trust is now in a much stronger position with a real opportunity to build for the future, so that the people of Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge will have healthcare services they can rely on and be proud of.

“I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the trust board and executive team, along with hospital staff, local stakeholders and partners, for their support during my tenure as chief executive.”

Interim chairwoman of BHRUT, Dr Maureen Dalziel, said: “On behalf of the trust board and executive management team, we are extremely grateful for the dedicated leadership and for the huge contribution Averil has made to the trust, during her three years as chief executive and we wish her all the very best for the future.”

A statement from the trust said: “Averil is now looking forward to spending some time with her family and friends and is also keen to pursue several projects, some of which are health related and some in conservation.”

Trust chairman, Sir Peter Dixon, resigned in February.

A replacement for Ms Dongworth has yet to be appointed.