Clearance checks on NHS staff will not begin until ‘well into next year’

    The Protection of Vulnerable Adults scheme looks unlikely to be
    extended to cover NHS employees for at least another year, experts
    have warned.

    Just days after the launch of Pova for the social care sector, it
    has been revealed that Department of Health officials are still yet
    to start on preliminary work on extending it to the NHS.

    Under Pova, care providers in England and Wales are required to
    check that prospective employees are not on a list of people banned
    from working in a care home or as a domiciliary care worker and to
    pass onto the list details of staff who have left their employment
    as a result of being unsuitable.

    Community care minister Stephen Ladyman said at the scheme’s launch
    this week that he was aiming for it to cover health service
    employees by early next year. However, this would allow little time
    for a period of consultation and the drafting of new regulations
    when MPs return from the summer recess.

    Frank Ursell, chief executive of the Registered Nursing Home
    Association, thought it likely that work would not begin on
    extending the scheme until after the party conferences in October
    or November.

    “If that’s the case, it is never going to start early next year,”
    Ursell said, adding that it had taken nine months for Pova to be
    introduced for the care sector following its agreement at a meeting
    last October.

    The DoH also admits it is unclear whether extending Pova will
    require secondary or primary legislation because of doubts over
    legal issues. If it is the latter, it will take even longer to
    extend the scheme.

    One of the biggest stumbling blocks is how the scheme will cover
    the average annual intake of 39,000 junior doctors and 100,000
    healthcare trainees.

    The department wants to do one Pova check on these groups at the
    start of their training rather than each time they change their
    placement – in most cases every six months – because thousands
    moving at the same time would “cause the system to melt down”, it
    said.

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