Staff may have to work ‘outside the law’ unless rules on checks relaxed

Care associations have joined forces to plead with the government
to allow new staff to work before their records have been checked
by the Criminal Records Bureau.

Eight care associations last week presented a 20-page dossier to
ministers and MPs highlighting the problem. They include the
National Care Homes Association, the Registered Nursing Home
Association and the Independent Healthcare Association, which
between them represent more than 60 per cent of the country’s care
home capacity.

The dossier calls for the National Care Standards Commission to
reinstate the guidance on criminal record checks, which it issued
last year, while an urgent review of regulations and requirements
is carried out.

If the guidance is not reinstated many would be forced to work
“outside the law” or be “in breach of care laws”, says the

From next month, the NCSC has decided to withdraw interim guidance
that currently enables staff to start work while waiting for their
check to be processed by the CRB as long as other checks, such as
references, have been made.

The guidance is being withdrawn because the CRB now says it is
processing 90 per cent of all enhanced checks within four weeks.
However, Frank Ursell, chief executive of the Registered Nursing
Home Association, said: “Care home operators know that from start
to finish the recruitment process takes a minimum of 50 days – and
sometimes longer – in order that a new employee can start work with
the appropriate security clearance.

“Our members will be operating outside the law if they employ staff
without a CRB check, and they are equally in breach of care laws if
they fail to staff their care home adequately.”

Sheila Scott, chief executive of the National Care Homes
Association, said the dossier also proposes further measures to
reinforce safeguards on staff, so that workers can be taken on
while the criminal checks are being processed.

A spokesperson for the NCSC said: “We have always said that if
providers can demonstrate that they have done everything they can
possibly do to get the checks done it’s something our inspectors
will take on board.”

Meanwhile, the government has announced that checks on existing
care home staff will be at the highest “enhanced” level, including
the use of conviction and any relevant non-conviction information
held locally by police.

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