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Case Study - West Sussex County Council

In late 2011, and through open competition, Veredus was retained by West Sussex County Council to conduct an executive search and selection campaign to recruit its first Executive Director of Health and Social care. 

This was an exceptionally challenging post with West Sussex County Council drawing together the areas of health and social care for the first time. The 2010 NHS White Paper “Equality and excellence: Liberating the NHS” outlined plans for Public Health to become part of local authorities and since then the Council had worked with the local Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authority to plan for the transition which was intended to deliver a responsive, integrated service that met community needs. The change also presented an opportunity to integrate health and social care with the Council’s responsibilities for Adult Social Care, with the post holder awarded overall line management responsibilities for these activities. 

West Sussex County Council was seeking an experienced leader who could shape this new integrated Directorate and ensure the delivery of excellence in complex and high profile services at this time of financial austerity and with a background of growing demands for care. The Executive Director would need to work with partners at local, regional and national level across the health and social care space. Responsible for developing the Council’s systems leadership for Health, the appointee would be expected to achieve this through close partnership working with the Strategic Health Authority, GP consortia, individual GPs, Acute Trusts and other providers, District & Borough Councils and the independent sector – a very complex stakeholder group. He or she would also be responsible for the future design for Adults Social Care, taking into consideration the changing demographics and cost pressures with the ultimate objective of developing capacity, offering personal choice and by delivering efficiencies. Additionally they would be expected to work as part of the Chief Executive’s Board, playing a key role in ensuring the authority worked as one to achieve its collective goals. 

We conducted a major executive search campaign backed up by focused specialist advertising (the HSJ and LGC). We started by engaging with the members of the selection panel which included representatives from the SHA, PCTs and the GP community. These stakeholders gave us an excellent briefing that outlined the background to the recruitment and the main priorities and challenges for the role. Our in-depth understanding of the West Sussex strategy and the impact that this role would make, meant that we had the information and insight to talk credibly about the role and present it as an attractive opportunity to a targeted and senior audience. 

We secured 18 applications (7 search and 11 advert), ten of which were progressed to a long list screening interview. These ten (seven of whom were search candidates) were then reduced to a short list of six. The final six candidates, (five of whom were search candidates), were then presented to the selection panel. Following rigorous interviews, all candidates were deemed ‘above the line’, but one in particular stood out; Michael Sadler, the Chief Operating Officer of Serco Health and former COO of NHS Direct, who accepted the post on a salary of £150,000. 

The client was extremely pleased with the quality and diversity of the field generated, and particularly with the strong commercial perspective brought by the successful candidate.  

West Sussex County Council has since awarded us a range of senior level roles to recruit. 

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