The embattled chief executive of heavily criticised Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has quit after mounting pressure.

Katrina Percy announced this morning that should would quit her £190,000-a-year role, despite the Trust's chairman Tim Smart backing her to stay on just two months ago.

But Ms Percy will stay on with the Trust in a new role and will keep earning her chief executive's salary.

In June the Trust finally admitted causing the death of 18-year-old Headington teenager Connor Sparrowhawk, who drowned in a bath while in its care in Slade House in 2013.

Despite pleas for Ms Percy to step down following an NHS England investigation which found the organisation failed to investigate hundreds of other deaths over a four year period she refused to budge.

But today she said she would quit in spite of Mr Smart's backing.

Mr Sparrowhawk's mother Dr Sara Ryan said Ms Percy's resignation was long overdue.

In a statement Ms Percy said: "I have reflected on the effect the ongoing personal media attention has had on staff and patients and have come to the conclusion that this has made my role untenable. 

"I have therefore come to the difficult decision to step down from my role as chief executive after nine years.

"I am delighted to be taking on an alternative role, providing strategic advice to local GP leaders as they work with others to transform the way in which health services are delivered across Hampshire, and I feel that now is the right time to take on that new challenge. 

"I know, and understand, that many will say I should have stepped down sooner given the very public concerns which have been raised in the past months.

"I stayed on as I firmly believed it was my responsibility to oversee the necessary improvements and to continue the ground breaking work we have begun with GPs to transform care for our patients."

Dr Ryan said: "This whole sorry episode has shone an important light on peculiar workings at senior NHS levels around regulation, accountability and enforcement.

"It also demonstrates that candour and transparency remain woefully lacking in 2016.

"We wish Julie Dawes the very best in her interim role as CEO and hope that a new executive team can make necessary changes to enable staff across the organisation to provide excellent, patient centred care and support."

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said her departure was long overdue and that she should have quit the Trust completely.

He said: "I am very concerned  that her comments, and those of the Trust, blame this on media attention rather than acceptance of her ultimate responsibility for the abject and fatal failings of Southern Health.  

"It looks as though if it hadn’t been for the media attention she would have carried on regardless. 

"I am also astonished that the medical director remains in place, given the history of poor patient care, negligence and uninvestigated deaths at the Trust. 

"I still think the Trust is too big, not fit for purpose, and needs to be broken up under entirely new management, if public confidence is to be restored.”

Mr Smart said Ms Percy had shown "great resilience" by "devoting herself to patients and staff of Southern Health."

Commenting on the departure, Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb said: "Under her watch, patients and families were fatally let down by a rotten culture where the unexplained deaths of more than a thousand vulnerable people with learning disabilities, autism and other mental health conditions were not properly investigated.

"There was a failure to learn lessons despite repeated warnings, and this recklessness ultimately cost lives. But rather than taking responsibility and doing the honourable thing by stepping down, Katrina Percy continued to put her own interests before the public interest.

"Reports that she will move into another well-paid job advising GPs on strategy are deeply concerning, and will aggravate the sense of injustice felt by the families of those who lost their lives.

"However, I sincerely hope that new leadership will help to restore accountability and start to rebuild public trust in Southern Health."