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. 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.

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

Common mistakes include:

  • Previous names are not provided

If the applicant has ever had any previous names (whether it's a different forename, middle name or surname) they must provide them on the DBS application form.

Check with the applicant that they have given all names which they've been known. They must also supply documentary proof to support all their name changes, which you should verify as outlined by the DBS identity verification guidelines.

  • The surname is spelt incorrectly

Surnames are often spelt incorrectly on DBS application forms. During the identity check compare all the details provided on the form against the details provided on the form against the details in the applicant’s identity documents to make sure everything is spelt correctly, including any hyphenations/apostrophes.

This is one of the simplest mistakes to avoid, but it’s also one of the most common which means that the disclosure may come back with ‘no information found’ or the application being completely rejected because of a mismatch of information.

  • The date of birth is different to previous applications

Counter-signatories must check that the date of birth is accurate and matches information in the applicant's identity documents during the verification process.

  • Other names are not declared

The applicant must declare their current full name, including all middle names. If they fail to declare any of their names the application may get rejected, causing delays. Double check with the applicant that they have provided all of their names and check these against their identity documents.

  • The address history is incomplete

The applicant must provide a full and complete five-year address history.

Check that the applicant has provided all addresses they have lived at in the last five years, with "from" and "to" dates given in the correct format (mm/yyyy), and without any gaps in between addresses.

If they fail to do this, the DBS application form will be rejected. Using the DBS online application form will help to prevent against mistakes here, because it will only allow the applicant to input dates in the correct format, and will flag up any gaps.

2. 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

3. 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.

4. 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.  

Next steps

The DBS will be carrying out a review of the services it provides and will be seeking stakeholder and user engagement in due course. NHS Employers will continue to work with the DBS to identify appropriate platforms to ensure the views of it's employer networks are represented as part of this review.

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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