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

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