NHS Employment Check Standards

General practices, in line with all other NHS providers, have to demonstrate compliance with CQC standards. Outcome 12 states that providers should:

  • Have effective recruitment and selection procedures in place, and
  • Carry out relevant checks when they employ staff
  • Ensure that staff are appropriately registered to perform their role
  • Refer staff who are not fit to work in healthcare to the appropriate body

In addition, it refers providers to the NHS Recruitment Check Standards in the applicable publications.

The Standards

NHS Employers updated the Recruitment Check Standards in September 2012 in light of changes to the CRB and Vetting and Barring schemes. Practices should aim to be compliant with the standard and to ensure that the carry out appropriate checks on all employees.

There are six standards to be checked

  1. Verification of identity
  2. Right to work
  3. Professional registration and qualification
  4. Employment history and reference
  5. Criminal record and barring
  6. Occupational health

1. Verification of Identity Checks

These are designed to:

  • Determine that the identity is genuine
  • Establish that the individual owns that identity

The NHS uses the information supplied by an individual to verify these two things and ensures that they can be checked against external sources. Prospective employees need to produce valid, current and ORIGINAL documents that include:

  • TWO forms of photographic identification and ONE document confirming their address


  • ONE form of photo identification and TWO documents confirming their address

At least one of these documents must contain the applicant’s signature. They should all be copied and retained on their personal file subject to Data Protection Rules.

Acceptable Photo identification includes:

  • UK, Channel Islands, Irish or Isle of Man or EU passport
  • Non EU passport confirming the immigration or residence status of the holder
  • UK / EU  photographic driving licence- UK licence must include paper counterpart
  • PASS Logo ID cards, EU national Identity card (Biometric Resident Permit)

Acceptable address confirmation documents include:

  • Recent utility bill or contract
  • Council tax bill
  • HMRC tax notification
  • Mortgage statement or rental agreement
  • Electoral role search

If no appropriate photographic ID is available employers should ask for:

  • Two forms of non photo ID
  • Two documents confirming their address
  • A passport sized photo

The NHs employers website contains  a list of acceptable non photographic personal identification documents.

2. Right to Work Checks

Changes to the Asylum and Immigration Act  which came into force in February 2008 make it a criminal office to employ  an illegal worker and the emphasis is on checking right to work status before someone commences.

The same checks should be carried out on all prospective workers with no assumptions being made on the basis of colour, race, ethnicity, national origin or length of time spent in the UK. The guidance  gives two list of documents (or combinations of documents) which should be used to confirm the right to work status .

LIST A - these documents confirm an unrestricted right to work in the UK

  • Passport from UK, Colonies EEA or Switzerland
  • UKBA Residence permit  issued to a national of EEA or Switzerland
  • Biometric Immigration Document issued by the UKBA
  • A full UK Birth or Adoption Certificate  with national insurance documents from either a government agency  or previous employer – also Channel islands and Isle of Man
  • A certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen with  national insurance number documentation
  • Home Office or UKBA letter stating indefinite stay in the UK with a national insurance documentation

If nothing from this list can be produced, the practice should  look for documents from LIST B – this list contains documents  that demonstrate limited leave to work in the UK and as such should be checked at least every 12 months. The full list can be seen on the NHS Employers website.

3. Professional Registration and Qualification Checks

The practice must check the professional registration of anyone who requires one before they start work and it should be a contractual condition that any healthcare professional has registration throughout their employment.

There are 8 regulatory bodies covering health professions but practices are only likely to require confirmation from:

  • General Medical Council
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Health and Care Professions Council

Other registration bodies include  those that regulate Pharmacists, Dentists, Opticians, Osteopaths and Chiropractors.

If a qualification is REQUIRED as being essential for any post – the employer should request the original certificate, copy the document and check it’s validity with the awarding body.

In the case of other qualifications that the practice requests or an applicant claims, an appropriate level of checking should be carried out.

4. Employment History and Reference Checks

All applicants should be asked to supply their full employment history – for this reason a standard application form is often better than a CV.  Any anomalies in the work history should be discussed at interview.

References should be used to verify part of the recent employment history , the NHS standard states:

  • Seek references to validate at least three years of previous employment or training – ideally checking a period that covers two separate employers – where possible
  • One reference should be from the applicants current or most recent employer
  • References should be in writing and ideally on a standardised form

Ideally references should be addressed to a central HR department rather than an individual manager   and the information provided should be used to confirm a recruitment decision. Always be aware that under the Equality Act 2010, information about health, ill health or absence should only be looked at after a conditional offer of employment has been made.

5. Criminal Record and Barring Checks

Criminal Record and Barring checks should be carried out once a conditional offer of employment has been made. There are two levels of CRB check:

  • Standard – which checks  information on both spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands  and warnings  held by the police
  • Enhanced -  which contains the same information as the standard disclosure but with the addition of any relevant and proportionate information held by the local police forces. Also from 10th September 2012 there will be two types of enhanced check – one which includes  a check of the Children and or Vulnerable Adults barred list  for staff carrying out regulated activity, and an enhanced check without

Every practice needs to consider what level of check is appropriate for their employees and to put in place their own system for checking. For posts which are deemed to require a CRB check, the practice can  use the exemption from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and ask  candidates to complete a declaration – see the NHS Employers website for  their model declaration forms.

There is no legal requirement to carry our retrospective or periodic criminal records checks on staff. How often a practice carries out periodic checks on existing staff remains a locally determined decision based upon the risks that are perceived.

6. Occupational Health Checks

Employers are no longer able to issue applicants with pre employment health questionnaires which would provide them with information about their health, ill health or absence  before a job offer has been made. However, you can ask a prospective employee to make a declaration of YES or NO to the following statements:

  • I am not aware of any health conditions or disability which might impair my ability to undertake effectively the duties of the position which I have been offered
  • I do have a health condition or disability which might affect my work and which might reuire special adjustment to my work or my place of work

Occupational health checks are made prior to employment in the NHS as a standard process. General practices may be able to opt onto this process. If that is the case, you should carry out a risk assessment of the job for any specific areas of risk and them complete the local Occupational Health documentation  after a conditional job offer has been made.

An employing practice should be very careful in refusing employment on grounds of ill health or absence and all the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act and the equality Act should  be fully considered.

Recruiting the Right Person Training Course

Thornfields@fpm run apractical and interactive 'Recruiting the Right Person' Training Course that covers all of these requirements in detail as well as focussing on writing an effective personal specification and creating an interview process that ensures you recruit  someone who will perform well in the job and in the team. Contact us for details of the course.

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