THE county council’s appointment of its director of adult services was “rushed through” due to a perceived volatility in the job market, it has been claimed.

Avril Wilson was hired on an interim basis, on a day rate of £1,097, just weeks before the publication of a damning report into safeguarding failures at another authority she previously held the same position.

The findings of an independent safeguarding adult review – which highlighted considerable failures on behalf of West Sussex County Council’s adult services following similar injuries to two severely disabled men at a care home – was published on April 17.

Ms Wilson, who headed the department at the time, ‘retired’ in December 2017 – reportedly one of four staff within adult care at WSCC that left their roles before the review was published.

Minutes from the WCC appointment etc panel meeting on February 5, in which the appointment was agreed, state the authority was recruiting numerous strategic leadership positions at the time.

The permanent and interim markets were deemed "extremely competitive" and unstable, respectively, by an executive search partner.

It was also unknown what impact a potential alternative delivery model for children’s services would have on the adult equivalent.

Martyn Lewis, younger brother of Gary Lewis – one of the men hospitalised – said: “In my view this appointment was rushed through, due to a perceived 'volatility in the interim market', whatever that means.”

“My belief is that Avril was employed because she was available and not because she was the best candidate from the long listing prepared.”

He said that calibre of role would require someone to serve a likely notice period of three months, with Ms Wilson eligible to begin so soon because she had ‘retired’ rather than resigned.

Councillor Adrian Hardman, deputy leader and cabinet member for adult social care, chaired the panel meeting, though council chief executive Paul Robinson was not present.

Sander Kristel, Ms Wilson’s predecessor, had resigned as director of adult services in November 13 and was due to leave on February 13 – eight days after the panel meeting.

Ms Kristel also held the statutory designation as director of adult social services (DASS) – with the council having combined both roles.

The minutes said the executive search partner, tasked with determining how best to proceed with the appointment, reported that the permanent market for this type of role was “extremely competitive” and would not recommend any appointment was made on this basis.

Following Ms Wilson’s interview on January 25 and “recognising the volatility of the interim market” and "extremely competitive" permanent market, it was agreed by Mr Robinson and Cllr Hardman, following private discussions, that a recommendation be made to the panel to offer her the role.

Ms Wilson was offered a 12-month contract, commencing on February 11 and with a review after six months.

A WCC spokeswoman said the appointment was made in accordance with the council's constitution following a full interview process.