Hampshire County Council has appointed Rea Mattocks as its new director of adult social services.

She has been responsible for adult social services at the London Borough of Merton since 2000, first as director of housing and social services, then as director of community and housing, following structure changes at the authority as a result of the Children Act.

She has a strong background in social care and health, having spent time with Surrey County Council and Westminster City Council, as well as working within two London health authorities.

Ms Mattocks has a track record in improving services through visible leadership and good communication with staff and the community, including turning around Merton's social services department from being in special measures to achieving a two-star rating.

As HCC director of adult social services - the post was advertised at a salary of up to £130,000 - she will oversee around 2,600 staff providing residential day care and home care services to older people and people with disabilities and mental health problems.

The county council helps over 78,000 adults and older people each year, including support for 3,500 living independently in their own homes as well as those in its 26 residential care homes.

Under a unique partnership between the county council and the National Health Service, 10 new nursing homes will be open by 2006, providing nursing care for older people.

Said HCC chief executive, Peter Robertson: "I look forward to welcoming Rea to Hampshire. She has an excellent track record and I'm confident she will face the challenges ahead with expertise, energy and enthusiasm.

The county council's social services and education departments are replaced by two new departments - adult social services and children's services - as a result of the Children Act.

The posts of director of social services and county education officer cease to exist under the Children Act, once the directors of adult and children's services take up their posts.