4 ways to avoid DBS check delays

Top tips

Top tips to help you speed up the DBS process during peak recruitment periods without compromising standards.

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 several benefits, including:

  • 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 eg. when a trainee moves post, but stays with the same employer
  • enabling the early running of the pre-employment inter-authority transfer 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 to the DBS Update Service early in the recruitment process can significantly reduce any delays and 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

Where any risk of delay to recruitment is likely to have 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 can only be utilised where urgently needing to recruit to positions that involve regulated activity with adults in the circumstances as outlined above. It can only be obtained as part of a request for a full enhanced disclosure

Employers may allow individuals to take up post under supervision in advance of receiving the full enhanced disclosure, 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.

There is no equivalent quick check against the children’s barred list.  Individuals must not be allowed to commence work in a regulated activity with children until the outcome of the full enhanced disclosure is known.

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

The DBS is introducing a number of enhancements in 2018 to further improve their services.

The changes include:

  • The ability for applicants to apply directly through the DBS for a basic criminal record check in England and Wales (from January). This will be available online, with identity checks completed through gov.uk verify.
  • The introduction of digital disclosure certificates (the go live date is yet to be confirmed by the DBS). This will allow organisations to complete and manage standard and enhanced checks online. This removes the need for employers to require individuals to present a hardcopy of their certificate, which could potentially speed up the recruitment process.
These enhancements follow the introduction on the new online referral service which was introduced in October 2017.

You can find more information about the new portal and forthcoming changes to DBS services on the gov.uk website.

Information about legal requirements and eligibility for a DBS check can be found in our criminal record checks standard.

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