Fast-track vetting service has failed to act quickly enough

The government’s fast-track vetting service for adult care
workers has failed to carry out checks quickly enough in its first
few months of operation, writes Derren

Residential and domiciliary care providers told Community Care
they had had to wait more than two weeks for preliminary Protection
of Vulnerable Adult – or PovaFirst – checks to be
carried out on new staff.

The checks were introduced when the Pova scheme was launched on
July 26 to enable care homes and domiciliary care agencies to
employ staff while they waited for a full checks, which can take
more than a month.

The scheme, run by the Criminal Records Bureau, checks that
prospective employees are not included on the list of people banned
from working with vulnerable adults. An email should be sent to
employers within 72 hours of an application being received
confirming whether the person is allowed to start work or not.

Despite government guidance being that employers should only
apply for PovaFirst in “exceptional circumstances”, the
CRB has been flooded with requests by employers anxious not to lose
prospective employees to other jobs.

Anchor Homes director Barbara Laing, who said it was taking
between 12 and 14 days to get PovaFirst checks back, insisted it
was not exceptional circumstances to need an employee to start work
as soon as possible. “It’s really important to get them
working quickly because of the competition for employees,”
she said.

Mike Padgham, managing director of St Cecilia’s Care
Services, said he had waited 10 days for PovaFirst checks to be
returned, while Ian Matthews, a director at Barchester Healthcare
Homes, said he had received only eight out of 24 PovaFirst checks
eight days after applying for them.

The Home Office admitted the CRB had not met its targets for
processing checks in the first few weeks of PovaFirst’s
operation, but insisted it was now completing 98 per cent within 48


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