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Top civil servant overseeing care homes in England steps aside – The Guardian
Last Updated on July 17, 2020 by
The top civil servant with responsibility for care homes in England has stepped aside, the Guardian has learned, sparking fresh concern about an absence of government leadership in a sector that has recorded 21,600 deaths from Covid-19 – almost 40% of all UK fatalities from the virus.
Rosamond Roughton, the director general for adult social care at the Department for Health and Social Care, “is now on a career break”, according to Whitehall sources, and a search has been launched across government to cover her role. No explanation for her move has been given. Roughton has been contacted for comment.
The former NHS official was the key contact for care home leaders during the crisis and was tasked with beefing up the department’s response to the pandemic. She was promoted to the role during the spring. She oversaw the roll-out of testing for staff and residents in care homes, which was criticised in the sector for being too slow and not regular enough to best control infection.
“To have her leave creates a void at a critical time,” said Nadra Ahmed, the executive chairman of the National Care Association. “It is crucial we have strong leadership at the top of government on social care, especially as we face the prospect of a second wave of infection. There is no time to waste in finding a replacement.”
Ahmed said Roughton had been under considerable pressure and was known to have been responding to crises on issues such as the supply of personal protective equipment to care homes, working late into the night. Officials said Roughton intended to return to the role, which she stepped away from earlier this week, and that she had not been moved aside.
“The government’s intensive work to support the adult social care sector will continue while the post is filled,” a source said.
The news comes at the end of a week in which the care sector responded with fury to a decision by ministers to in effect limit their ability to recruit staff from the EU, despite there being about 120,000 vacancies before the coronavirus pandemic.
Care homes remain concerned that a second wave of Covid-19 could hit them hard, with many claiming to be financially vulnerable.
Roughton was previously the director of NHS commissioning at NHS England and before that worked for the NHS in Yorkshire and Manchester, and as a a senior civil servant at the Department of Health and HM Treasury.