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GP trainees left ‘twiddling their thumbs’ by three-month wait for CRB checks

By Alisdair Stirling

Exclusive: GP practices are having to wait months for registrars to receive criminal record bureau (CRB) checks, new figures show.

Home Office figures show the Criminal Records Bureau is missing its target to complete 90% of applications for CRB checks within 28 days.

In 2008/09, 88.6% of enhanced checks were issued before the target timeframe of four weeks, but since implementation of the scheme’s first phase in October 2009, that figure has fallen to 82.6%.

The controversial vetting and barring scheme would have made it mandatory for all those starting a new GP post, including trainees and locums, to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority before 1 November. After that date, it would have become a criminal offence to start a new post without registration, although the Government is now reviewing the scheme.

But new GPs still require a CRB check, and GPs in training practices say it can take up to three months for checks to be completed, leaving them to shoulder extra work while trainees are unable to work unsupervised, and hampering progress in training already hit by SHA funding cuts.

Dr Ruth Marshall, a GP in Basildon, Essex, said trainees at her practice had been left ‘twiddling their thumbs’ because they could not be put on the performers list or get defence body cover until checks were processed: ‘Doctors have not been able to see patients for a month, unless they were 100% supervised. It’s a six-month post, so one-sixth has not happened. It may mean their training has to be extended.’

A CRB spokesperson said: ‘The CRB works closely with police forces to ensure each enhanced CRB check is processed as quickly as possible, but some will take longer to complete.’

GP training programmes have been hit by the delays in CRB checks GP training programmes have been hit by the delays in CRB checks