GPs face tough penalties over child checks on staff

Practice staff in contact with children and vulnerable adults should have been checked by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), according to the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS).

Dr Gail Gilmartin: We advise all our members to comply with the revised regulations
Dr Gail Gilmartin: We advise all our members to comply with the revised regulations

The ISA came into force last month and handles the process for checking employees who work with these groups in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The MDDUS advises that general medical practice is included as the ISA definition is ‘activity involving contact with children or vulnerable adults and is of a specified nature (such as medical treatment) on a frequent intensive or overnight basis'.

Dr Gail Gilmartin, a senior medico-legal adviser with MDDUS, said: ‘We advise all our members to comply with the revised regulations and ensure that all employees are appropriately checked.

‘Employers who do not ensure that their employees are ISA checked face tough penalties as it is now a criminal offence for individuals barred by the ISA to work or apply to work in a GP practice where they would come into contact with children and vulnerable adults.'

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The UK already has one of the most advanced systems in the world for carrying out checks on all those who work or volunteer in positions of trust with children and vulnerable adults, and the creation of the new Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) builds on this good work.

‘It is inaccurate to suggest that staff needed to be ISA-registered from last month. We are taking a phased approach to the rollout of the VBS. From July 2010 new entrants to work with vulnerable groups can register with the ISA and from November 2010 all staff starting new jobs that involve frequent or intensive access to children or vulnerable adults will need to register with the ISA. Current staff working in these roles will have to register by 2015.

‘A lot of work has been done to ensure the system is fair to employers. There are only penalties for employers if they knowingly employ a barred person in a role providing frequent or intensive access to children or vulnerable adults or, from November 2010, if they employ someone in such a role without checking they're ISA-registered.

‘We believe this scheme offers a common sense, proportionate approach, and what the public would rightly expect.'

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