4 ways to avoid DBS check delays

Top tips

20 / 4 / 2016 4.38pm

Speed up the DBS process during peak recruitment periods manage risk without compromising standards with our top tips.

1. Optimise the use of the Electronic Staff Record 

The Streamlined Junior Doctor Interface was launched by the NHS ESR Central Team in 2012. This is the technical link that enables NHS organisations and their partner Local Education and Training Boards (LETBs) to share information about junior doctors (medical trainees) and their training posts.

The interface offers a number of benefits.

  • Early notification of new appointments onto foundation programmes and dates of transition.
  • Removal of the administrative burden on both the deaneries and employers by supporting the timely transfer of a medical trainee’s information.
  • An improved internal transfer process e.g. when a trainee moves post, but stays with the same employer.
  • Enabling the early running of the pre-employment IAT process, which will speed up the employment checking process.
Find out more about ESR

2. Encourage subscription to the DBS Update Service 

Encouraging individuals to subscribe early in the recruitment process to the DBS Update Service can significantly reduce delays and the costs associated with the appointment of temporary workers in highly mobile positions. It also enables the portability of criminal record information.

If junior doctors are subscribed to the update service, employers may accept their original DBS disclosure certificate. A free and instant online check can be carried out by employers. This will verify that the applicants criminal record status has not changed since the certificate was first issued. Furthermore, it will flag up whether the new position changes the level of DBS check required, or the type of contact they will have with patients. 

Employers that use the service benefit from having access to the two-way link between the DBS and ESR systems. This enables employers to receive automatic updates on the criminal record status of all individuals who are subscribed to the service which, for junior doctors, would mean that they would no longer be required to apply for a new DBS check every three years.

Further guidance on the use of the update service can be found on the NHS Employers website.

3. Make use of Adult First Check

If delays to recruitment is having a direct and negative impact on the safe delivery of patient care, employers may wish to consider carrying out a DBS Adults First check.

This check must only be applied for where urgently needing to recruit to positions (as outlined above) which involve regulated activity with adults and must be obtained as part of a request for a full enhanced disclosure. It must not be applied for in isolation.

Once notification is received that the individual is not barred from working in a regulated activity with adults, and all other pre-employment checks come back satisfactorily, employers may permit the individual to commence their post, in a supervised capacity, prior to receipt of their enhanced disclosure certificate.

There is no equivalent quick check against the children’s barred list and therefore this type of check must not be applied for where individuals are working in regulated activity with children or both adults and children. In such cases, employers must wait for the outcome of the full enhanced disclosure before allowing individuals to start work.

For further information about the Adult First service and how to apply, please read the DBS Service’s guidance to employers.  

4. Ensure forms are completed correctly 

It is not uncommon for DBS application forms to be returned to the employing organisation because applicants have not completed the form correctly or information is missing.

Counter-signatories need to ensure they rigorously check application forms to ensure they are complete and correct before they submit them to the DBS for processing.

Employers may find it useful to refer to the following guidance on completing disclose application forms.

Next steps

We are aware that a number of NHS organisations in the London area have reported that it is taking much longer than the 60 day escalation target for DBS disclosure applications to be processed by the Metropolitan Police, with some applications taking anything up to 130 days.

The DBS has assured us that their recovery plan is fully operational and they anticipate that normal service standards will be resumed by early summer. We will continue to work closely with the Department of Health, DBS and the Home Office to monitor the situation in London.  We will continue to work with the wider engagement teams to monitor the situation. 

If you need any further information about any of the measures outlined above, or you are experiencing similar difficulties with the DBS process, please contact Nyla Cooper at nyla.cooper@nhsemployers.org or telephone 0113 306 3033. 

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