Standards and employment checks


14 / 11 / 2011 11.56am

The Health Secretary commissioned Skills for Health and Skills for Care to develop a code of conduct, standards and competencies for healthcare support workers. These were launched in March 2013.

Employers contributed to an extensive consultation exercise to inform this work. The intention is for bodies wishing to establish a voluntary register for healthcare support workers or adult social care workers in England to use them as part of their standards for inclusion on a register.

There are numerous other products and ideas which you can use to develop your support workforce, and to ensure your systems help to improve how these workers care for patients. We have a strong set of employment check standards in place, to challenge the assertion that patient safety is compromised without statutory regulation in place. These include:

1. Verification of identity checks.
2. Right to work checks.
3. Professional registration and qualification checks.
4. Employment history and reference checks.
5. Criminal record checks.
6. Occupational health checks.

In addition, the new Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) which replaced the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) in 2013 will make decisions about barring inappropriate people from jobs. Employers are legally obliged to refer information to the DBS if they have moved or removed any individual because they have harmed, or there is a risk of harm to, a member of a vulnerable group.

Where these processes are embedded it avoids the risk of a nurse removed from the register becoming reemployed as a healthcare support worker.

Our briefing The support workforce: developing your patient-facing staff for the future considers some of the current issues facing employers and highlights options available to help NHS organisations supply a sustainable and flexible workforce. 


Regulation exists to provide public protection. It can take different forms and we currently have a mixed economy in operation.

  • Professional statutory regulation of professional groups -currently undertaken by nine regulators including the General Medical Council (GMC), Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
  • Voluntary registers - exist for some professions and are maintained by professional bodies, for example, clinical perfusionists and clinical physiologists
  • Employer-led and managed checks - apply to all staff, regardless of the existence of voluntary or mandatory registers    

Our work programme focuses on three main areas:

  1. Supporting employers - with enhancing employment practice to ensure the workforce is competent to deliver safe care to patients
  2. Representing employers -  a) on the development of a Code of Conduct and minimum standards for education, b) in the  Department of Health and among other key stakeholders, c) in the media
  3. Working in partnership - with the regulators, professional bodies and trade unions for the benefit of patients, employers and staff. 

Supporting employers

We worked with Skills for Health, trades unions, professional bodies and regulators to use employer views to help design the Code of Conduct and minimum standards for education.

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