DBS checks

Published on: 22nd July 2013 | Updated on: 16th May 2024


Pharmacy Regulations 2013

Community Pharmacy England regularly receives queries from LPCs and contractors about requests from commissioners for the undertaking of enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on pharmacy staff providing NHS services.

Essential services – there is no NHS regulatory requirement for pharmacy contractors to have undertaken DBS checks on pharmacy staff providing Essential services.

Advanced services – there is no NHS regulatory requirement (either in the terms of service or Secretary of State Directions) for pharmacy contractors to have undertaken DBS checks on pharmacy staff providing Advanced services. However, where Flu vaccinations are undertaken in the patient’s own home (including a care home), contractors must ensure that vaccinators have a valid DBS certificate. Also if NMS is undertaken in patients’ homes, they must ensure appropriate safe-guarding arrangements are in place, including ensuring pharmacists have a valid DBS certificate.

Locally Commissioned Services and Enhanced Services – commissioners have the right to impose conditions for the provision of locally commissioned services. If the commissioner requires enhanced DBS checks as a pre-condition of providing a locally commissioned service, then the costs of the checks would usually be recovered either directly from the commissioner, or more likely from the income for providing the service.

Click on the headings below for more information.

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (SVGA)

The SVGA strengthens current safeguarding arrangements for individuals in the workplace. Its purpose is to reduce the risk of individuals suffering harm at the hands of those employed (in either a paid or voluntary capacity) to work with them.

The SVGA requires persons whose names are on a ‘barred’ list, not to apply for posts which would involve working with children or vulnerable adults as appropriate – if they do, they commit an offence. An employer who knowingly employs someone who is barred to work with those groups would also break the law.  Employers who dismiss workers because they have caused harm to children or vulnerable adults, are obliged to submit a report to the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

From July 2010 those who work with children or vulnerable adults were to be required to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), and before employing a person to work with children or vulnerable adults, an employer would be required to seek from prospective employees evidence of registration (e.g. to quote their registration number that the employer could check on-line).  If a person is not registered, they could not be employed.  The process of registering is expected to take several years.

In June 2010, the government launched a review of the vetting and barring legislation, and put on hold all requirements that had not started – such as the registration requirement.

Following a review, changes to the Disclosure and Barring Service were made, and these came into effect in June 2013 (see below).

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks

Government reforms being introduced to Criminal Records Bureau checks, which are now known as Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, mean that from June 2013 pharmacists and others had the option to have a portable DBS check.

This major change enables pharmacists and others to have an up to date record of any changes that have occurred since their most recent DBS check. The record, which currently costs £13 annually and will be maintained by the DBS, enables current and future employers to carry out (with the person’s permission) an instant on-line check of the person’s current status.

Pharmacy contractors looking to take on a new employee, or to carry out a subsequent review of an individual, will be able to use a copy of that person’s original DBS check together with the on-line record of updates maintained by the DBS to carry out an instant, free of charge check on any pharmacist or other person on whom checks are appropriate.

For the people owning the records, this will mean that they can transfer to a new employer without the need to have a new DBS check carried out, or if commissioners require periodic re-checks, this can also be of benefit (although for pharmacists working on one site, for one employer, a new full DBS check every few years may be more cost effective).

This refinement to the DBS checks may be of some benefit to pharmacists, (particularly locums), and to pharmacy contractors, as pharmacists, once checked, will be able to provide their DBS status to new employers or to be subject to a periodic review almost instantly. This could be particularly welcome as new commissioners within the NHS and local authorities are now often asking for CRB checks as a pre-condition before commissioning services.

However, there will be a cost for pharmacists wanting the records as they will need to pay the annual fee of £13. As stated above, there is no requirement in the terms of service for checks to be carried out, but there has been increasing demand for such checks by commissioners before a locally commissioned service is commissioned. The costs where DBS checks are required as a pre-condition should wherever possible, be factored into the funding for such services.

Further information can be obtained from the government’s website where there is guidance for employees and employers.


Q. I am in contract negotiations with the local authority to agree a locally commissioned supervised consumption service. I intend to engage a locum pharmacist to carry out the service. The draft standard contract requires an enhanced DBS check as a prerequisite to providing the locally commissioned service. How can I do this?
Individuals and the self-employed (e.g. locum pharmacists) cannot apply for a DBS check on themselves.

Options currently available to obtain a DBS check for the pharmacy contractor wishing to engage the services of a locum pharmacist are:

  • If you are registered with the DBS then you could apply for the appropriate DBS check;
  • If you are not registered with the DBS then you should apply for a DBS check through an umbrella body – a registered body that gives other non-registered organisations access to DBS checks

For further information, you may wish to visit DBS website here.

For more information on this topic please email comms.team@cpe.org.uk

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