No scrutiny of home help endangers ‘at risk’ adults

Vulnerable adults are being left at risk after the Department of Health
(DoH) shelved plans to check some care staff’s criminal records.

The Government hoped to check all care staff working with children or
vulnerable adults under the National Care Standards but huge delays at the
Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).

The DoH has now announced that staff who visit people in their homes will
not have to be checked by the CRB.

But the move has attracted some criticism from organisations working in the
sector. Clare Smith, HR director at care provider Leonard Cheshire, said
disabled patients who receive care in the home are the most vulnerable and that
CRB checks on these staff are crucial.

"We’re very disappointed with the CRB and it has affected our decision.
We deal with very vulnerable people so are doing all the checks we can and
trying to make sure staff are supervised.

"It’s basically because the CRB can’t cope. We find this totally
unacceptable because these are the most vulnerable people who we should be
protecting especially," she said.

"It will probably ease the recruitment problems but I have received
applications from people who I wouldn’t employ without a police check."

Employers in the care sector will also have more time to check existing
staff as the deadline has been extended until 2004.

A spokesperson for the DoH said it still planned to introduce the checks for
the homecare staff but couldn’t put a date on its launch because of the

Some employers have faced delays in placing staff of up to six months
because the CRB has been unable to cope with the huge number of record checks
on the backgrounds of job applicants who work with children or vulnerable

By Ross Wigham

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