Council adult chief steps down following damning CQC verdict

Wirral Council adult services director John Webb is to take early retirement, after the authority's adult care performance was heavily criticised in a Care...

Wirral Council adult services director John Webb is to take early retirement, after the authority’s adult care performance was heavily criticised in a Care Quality Commission report.

In a statement, Webb admitted his departure was connected to the need for the council to improve on adult care. A CQC inspection in May, a report of which was published last month, found the council was performing poorly on safeguarding and in providing choice and control for adults with learning disabilities.

Though it was rated as adequate on in supporting learning disabled adults to make a positive contribution to society, the CQC concluded its capacity to improve was poor.

Webb said: “As a public servant my objective has always been to see services improve. I now believe that objective is best served by my departure allowing a fresh start, new thinking and energies to be applied to the demands ahead.”

Though he admitted the council faced problems in safeguarding and learning disabilities, Webb said that “adult social services in Wirral has much to be proud of, including many skilled, dedicated and able staff”.

He added: “The challenges are many and key decisions will require real courage if services are to move on as I believe they must.”

Wirral was found to be performing well in last year’s annual performance assessment. However, the CQC inspection in May found “variable standards of safeguarding practice”, with council training failing to adequately equip staff and managers to lead investigations. A number of assessments of people with learning disabilities highlighted concerns about their safety but there was little evidence of protection planning or of individual reviews paying attention to this.

Children’s director Howard Cooper looks set to succeed Webb on an interim basis, though this must be approved by the council’s employment and appointments committee, along with Webb’s retirement, at a meeting on 26 October.

In a tribute to Webb, who has been director since 2007, interim chief executive Jim Wilkie said: “I know that John cares deeply about social services in Wirral, and about the needs of vulnerable people. He will be missed by his colleagues, and the many partner and community organisations and individuals he has worked closely with.”

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