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CQC Essentials: Who should have a disclosure and barring service (DBS) check?

The CQC expects practices to have recruitment procedures that incorporate DBS checks. This article provides guidance on what the CQC will expect to see during an inspection.

This article relates to the CQC key question: Is your practice safe?

Practices need to have safe recruitment procedures and need to be in line with the national policy on criminal record checks.

Practices need to:

  • have a process in place for undertaking criminal record checks at the appropriate level (only for staff who require a check).
  • assess the different responsibilities and activities of staff to determine if they are eligible for a DBS check and to what level.
  • remember that the eligibility for checks and the level of that check depends on the roles and responsibilities of the job - not the individual being recruited - and is based on the level of contact staff have with patients, particularly children and vulnerable adults.

The guidance above has been agreed with BMA, RCGP, NCAS and MDU.

Remember, CQC does not decide who is eligible for a DBS check or not.

If practices are unsure about who is eligible for a check or not they can contact the Disclosure and Barring Service.

Clinical staff (GPs, nurses, healthcare assistants)

Basic guidance says that clinical staff require a DBS check.

GPs will have had criminal records checks done as part of their Performers List checks. In some cases, practices may use these checks rather than obtaining an additional DBS check when the GP begins working for the practice. In such cases, the practice should be able to provide sufficient evidence of seeking appropriate assurances from NHS England that a check has been undertaken.

Non-clinical staff

There is no general requirement that non-clinical staff (such as those at reception or administrative staff) have to have a DBS check - it depends on their responsibilities. Therefore, practices may not be breaching this regulation if their non-clinical staff have not had DBS checks done.

Access to medical records alone does not mean that staff are eligible for a DBS check - so this may rule out some administrative staff members.

However, a good example of where non-clinical staff may be eligible for a DBS check is reception staff who also carry out chaperone duties and look after a baby or child while their mother is being examined by a GP or nurse.

Where the decision has been made not to carry out a DBS check on staff, the practice should be able to give a clear rationale as to why.

  • Professor Nigel Sparrow is senior national GP advisor and responsible officer at the CQC

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