Surrey council’s adults’ services director Sarah Mitchell has left the council by mutual consent after five years in the post. In a statement, the authority said Mitchell had left her role “for personal reasons”.
Council leader David Lodge paid a warm tribute to Mitchell, saying “Sarah has personally led a transformation in the way that adult social care is offered in Surrey and is widely respected and admired for her approach to partnership working. I would like to thank Sarah personally and on behalf of the council for all she has done for Surrey. We will miss her.”
Mitchell’s departure comes less than four months after the authority was heavily criticised in the serious case review into the death of a woman who went nine days without home care after immigration officials closed down her domiciliary agency. Mitchell apologised for failings identified in the SCR, which found that a social worker tasked with contacting Foster after the closure of the agency, CareFirst 24, did not do so. Two staff were disciplined as a result.
Improvement under strong leadership
Mitchell joined Surrey in 2009 from the Isle of Wight, after the county council had fallen from three starts to one under the old ratings system. In 2010, the Care Quality Commission found that the authority had made good progress as a result of strong leadership, in its final annual performance assessment of council adults’ services.
Under Mitchell’s leadership, the authority became one of seven councils to pilot outsourcing social work services to an independent practice, in Surrey’s case, its provision for people with a hearing impairment.
She also announced plans last year for social workers to be placed in GP surgeries to ensure disabled and older people received more integrated care.
Following her departure, Mitchell said: I wish the council and colleagues in the NHS and the voluntary and independent sector the very best for the future and I thank my staff for all their tremendous hard work and commitment over recent years.”