Isle of Wight head Sarah Mitchell takes over at one-star Surrey

Surrey Council has appointed a new strategic director to run its adult services, which have seen their performance dip from three stars to one since 2005.

Current Isle of Wight director of community services Sarah Mitchell will take the reins by the end of March, replacing Surrey’s interim director of adult social care, Ian Davey.

Last year, Surrey decided to split its pioneering families directorate – which had reintegrated children’s and adults’ services under a single director in 2006 – following performance problems in both services.

Highly critical

A highly critical joint area review last year led by Ofsted found that Surrey was inadequate in safeguarding, provision for children with learning disabilities and in its capacity to improve services.

It was one of only four councils rated as inadequate overall in its annual performance assessment of children’s services last year, prompting children’s secretary Ed Balls to send in an intervention team.

Meanwhile the council, which had been rated as three stars for adult services in 2005, fell down to one star in 2007, a rating it retained this year, when the Commission for Social Care Inspection found its capacity to improve was “uncertain”.

Isle of Wight on the up

By contrast, Isle of Wight Council saw its rating rise from two to three stars this year, under Mitchell’s leadership. In its annual report, CSCI praised her for “influencing the wider council agenda to ensure that service developments take account of social care needs”.

Sally Marks, Surrey’s executive member for adults and community care, said “I am delighted to recruit such a high calibre candidate as Sarah Mitchell.”

She added: “Her appointment to a service facing some difficult challenges, including meeting the needs of more older people without a corresponding increase in government funding, provides further proof that we are building a first-class management structure capable of meeting and exceeding the needs of Surrey’s residents.”

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