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DBS: Standard or Enhanced Check?

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All CQC registered Providers must comply with the essential standards of quality and safety, including those in Section 12 relating to effective recruitment and selection procedures.  Section 12A(4) & (5[1]) relate specifically to DBS (CRB) checks, and this guidance is intended to help Practice Managers decide who needs to be checked and what type of check is needed.

Before an organisation can ask a person to make an application for a DBS (CRB) check, they must ensure that they are legally entitled to ask that person to reveal their conviction history.  Most individuals in general practice are likely to be eligible by virtue of Section 13 of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) order 1975, which states:  ‘Any employment which is concerned with the provision of health services and which is of such a kind as to enable the holder to have access to persons in receipt of such services in the course of their normal duties.’

The legal right to ask for a DBS (CRB) check does not confer a legal obligation to do so.  In General Practice, only those in a regulated activity i.e. those providing, or supervising the provision of, care must have an Enhanced DBS (CRB) with barred list check. For all other staff, the Practice must make a risk based judgement as to whether or not a Standard DBS (CRB) check is required. 

The rule of thumb is that all clinicians, nurses, HCA’s, phlebotomists etc need an "enhanced check" plus anyone else who may be in a one to one situation with a child or vulnerable adult – so not usually admin staff or receptionists but probably the Practice Manager/Deputy etc – a "standard check" would suffice for these roles.

Standard DBS (CRB) Check

As General Practice is ‘concerned with the provision of health services’, you can ask anyone that applies, or volunteers for any post to have a DBS (CRB) check.  You do not have to do this unless the person is in a ‘regulated activity’ i.e. is actually providing, or supervising the provision of care (See Table 1 below).  If however the Practice decides not to take up a DBS (CRB) check, the CQC would want to see evidence that this decision had been reached through some kind of formal risk assessment process.  Further advice on this is provided later.

Enhanced DBS (CRB) Check

You are legally required to ask for an Enhanced DBS (CRB) with barred list check for anyone that applies, or volunteers for any post that is a ‘regulated activity’ (See Table 1 below). 

Table 1: Rough guide to Eligibility for DBS (CRB) Checks in General Practices


Independent Safeguarding Authority - Barred Lists 

The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) holds two lists (Children/Adults) of people considered unsuitable to work with vulnerable groups.  Any application for an Enhanced DBS (CRB) check in a regulated activity will automatically be referred to the ISA for a barred list check.  Those listed under Categories A, and B in Table 1 are considered to be in a ‘Regulated Activity’ and, based on the information provided in the Application Form, the DBS (CRB) will decide which of the two Barred Lists they need to check.

Please Note:- In September 2012 changes were made to the definition of ‘Regulated Activity’, and ‘Controlled Activity’ was abolished.

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Updated on 05 July 2017 3673 views