Scotland to tighten its checks on NHS staff

The BMA is seeking assurances that tough new pre-employment checks on foreign NHS workers, in the wake of the Glasgow airport terrorist attack, will not compromise staff confidentiality or lead to delays in recruitment.

The Scottish government is to announce revised guidance with tougher pre-employment checks later this month following a report by Audit Scotland into the current state of checks on foreign staff in the NHS.

The BMA understands that this will affect all workers within the NHS, including those employed by GPs.

BMA Scotland chairman Dr Peter Terry said: 'It is extremely unlikely that pre-employment checks would identify people who might possibly commit terrorist acts in the future.

'Changes should not increase the burden of bureaucracy or create delays for employing individuals from overseas.'

The Audit Scotland report was called for after it emerged that a number of those arrested after the June attack were NHS employees. The report found that while procedures were generally being followed there were inaccuracies.

While officially there are 1,161 foreign members of staff in the NHS, Audit Scotland's report says 'this is likely to be an underestimate as it can be difficult for boards to provide accurate numbers of overseas staff'.

The reasons for this are a lack of information about immigration status and a lack of a central database of staff records.

Revisions will include a new duty on boards to obtain criminal record information at the pre-employment stage for all staff. If this is not possible then the health board will be expected to carry out a risk assessment of the employee.

GPletters@haymarket.com

Audit Scotland report

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