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Criminal record checks

What is a criminal record check?

A criminal record check details 'spent' and 'unspent' convictions, cautions and warnings on police records.

Employers need to ensure their employees have the appropriate certification from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), or its equivalent in the devolved nations:


Why do I need to have a DBS check?

Employers have a legal responsibility to check the criminal record history of people seeking to work with children or adults in specific situations.

Before you are employed as a doctor, start a new role or begin your foundation training, you will be required to have a criminal record check.

In England and Wales an enhanced with lists check is generally required for posts that require a significant amount of contact with children or vulnerable adults.


Who will get a copy of my criminal records check?

A copy of the DBS certificate will be sent to the employee only. It is the responsibility of the employee to send a copy of the certificate to their new employer to ensure they are able to start work.

Employers will need to see the original certificate on a doctor's first day at work.


Who should pay for my criminal records check?

Criminal records checks are a requirement for employment. It is the BMA's position that employers should bear the cost of securing the appropriate certification.

In the majority of cases employers either pay the fee or reimburse employees for the cost. NHS Employers recommend that any decisions on arrangements to pay the fee for criminal records checks should be done in consultation with Local Negotiating Committees.

The cost of an enhanced with lists check is £44.


How often do I need a criminal records check?

There is no defined period of validity for a criminal records check, but guidance issued by NHS Employers is clear that junior doctors in training do not need to secure a new criminal record check for every rotation:

"Doctors on educationally-approved rotational training are regarded as being in continuous employment during the term of training and are therefore required to have a criminal record check, as a minimum, once every three years, rather than each time they change rotation."

The same guidance goes on to state that:

"...evidence of a check having been carried out may be obtained from the doctor's own copy of a disclosure, from the previous employer or host organisation's ESR record, or from other local records. To aid subsequent verification of a DBS check having been obtained, details of the disclosure date and reference number should always be recorded on ESR for the benefit of informing future employers conducting a risk assessment."


How is the system changing?

The Disclosure and Barring Service have introduced the Update Service, which allows for greater portability of criminal records checks in England and Wales. The service introduces a subscription that allows for a criminal records check to be kept valid when moving between employers.

The BMA will work with other unions, employers and DBS to ensure the new system reflects the needs and working practices of doctors.