Former Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Anne Williams has been appointed national director for learning disabilities at the Department of Health.
Williams (pictured below right), strategic director for community health and social care at Salford Council, will take up her post in October, when the DH is due to publish its Valuing People Now strategy, whose implementation she will oversee.
She replaces Rob Greig, who left in May to become chief executive of social inclusion agency the National Development Team, after seven years’ spent monitoring the implementation of the Valuing People agenda.
Williams told Community Care she wanted to be an ambassador for people with learning disabilities and would bring to the job experience of changing local services and knowledge of how government and local authorities work.
She said: “I have done a lot of work in Salford to modernise and improve services in partnership with the health service. I have experience of truly joining up services and making sure people live ordinary lives in ordinary houses and have access to services.”
Williams said she was particularly keen to ensure better services for those with profound and complex disabilities and those whose behaviour challenges services, and that she wants to ensure learning disability services have a high public profile
She said: “There is a possible risk, with the growing concern about older people, that learning disability services get less of a priority, so one of my priorities is to have as high a profile as we can and to support local authorities to do that.”
James Churchill, chief executive of learning disability provider organisation the Association for Real Change, said the new director had a difficult job to do to ensure radical change, while maintaining services.
He said: “The major task is how to hang on to the drive behind the personalisation agenda to make a real difference, whilst not allowing the continuity of care provided by current services to collapse. There are of course huge expectations for better services, but the fact is that resources are going to be squeezed.”
Mencap chief executive Jo Williams said she was “delighted” by the appointment, given Anne Williams’ “wealth of experience”. She added: “We look forward to seeing Anne getting all government departments interested in learning disability so that people with a learning disability are treated as equal citizens in all aspects of life.”
On the eve of his departure, Greig reflects on his role