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DBS: Risk Assessing Staff for a DBS Check

Risk Assessment Tool

This tool aims to help you risk assess staff for DBS checking.  It is, of course, for your Practice to make the final decision, based on the arrangements you currently have in place, but we have provided some scenario based guidance to assist you.

In this case, the risk to the Practice is that a member of staff will physically or mentally abuse a patient.  You can use the tables below to decide what level of risk this poses to the organisation.

First you must decide, based on the position applied for and any policies, procedures and checks you may have in place, how likely it is that this event will happen. . . 

Risk Assessment Table 1

Next you need to decide, what level of harm is likely to be caused to the patient. . .

Risk Assessment Table 2

Now you just need to do a simple calculation to arrive at the projected level of risk this event would present to your organisation.  Simply multiply the risk score by the likelihood score.  The table below also does this for you. . .

Risk Assessment Table 3

How Does it Work in Practice?   

In the following scenario, how likely is this member of staff to do harm to a patient?

You want to employ a part time Admin Assistant to help you catch up on notes summarising.  The Admin Assistant will have no face to face contact with patients in the course of their duties.  They will work in an office upstairs away from patient access areas, and will not be expected to take telephone calls.  They will work between 10am and 3pm, however, these hours mean the Admin Assistant has to pass through the busy reception area, on their way to and from their office, and of course they will be handling confidential patient information.  

Do you need to ask the member of staff to apply for a DBS check?  How would you fill out the two tables?


Should I choose this?

For example if…..

Rare = 1

Only if it is virtually impossible for them to do harm

The applicant will be monitored 100% of the time and has no way of accessing patients or patient accessed areas

Unlikely =  2

Only if there is a realistic possibility it could happen

The applicant will not be working in patient areas but access to patients is possible at any time.

Possible =  3

Only for things  that, despite best efforts, do sometimes go wrong

The Practice has taken robust steps to ensure that access to patient areas is restricted; using a pass card for example

Likely = 4

Only for things that go wrong from time but there is not much you can do about it

The Practice has taken no steps to ensure patient safety, patients and staff can accesses all areas, all staff have free access to patients at any time

Almost certain = 5

Only if it is almost entirely unavoidable at some time or other

The applicant is a convicted abuser, awaiting sentencing!!

When assessing the degree of harm caused, the possibilities are endless but here are some scenarios to help you. . .

Risk Level

Examples of Harm

Negligible = 1

Shouts at, and upsets, a child for running in the passageways

Minor = 2

Shouts at and physically threatens a patient for leaving the waiting room door open

Moderate = 3

Handles an elderly lady roughly, so as to leave bruises, whilst helping her back into her chair in the waiting room

Major = 4

Pushes a patient out of the way so that the patient falls and fractures a hip

Catastrophic = 5

Befriends, stalks and then rapes a patient

So if we say that it is possible (Unlikely 2) your new member of staff could bruise a patient (Moderate 3) whilst helping the patient back into their chair, because the member of staff was walking through reception on the way to their office when they saw the lady fall.  The risk factor would be 2 x 3 = 6 - a Moderate risk. 

You must now decide how this affects your decision whether or not to ask your applicant to undertake a DBS check.

Frequently Asked Questions

Continuing with this scenario:

Q:   Can I ask for a DBS check?

A:    Yes: You are legally entitled to request a DBS check under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act as you are employing the new member of staff to work in an organisation that is ‘concerned with the provision of healthcare’.


Q:   Do I have to get a DBS check?

A:    No: As the employee's everyday duties do not involve any patient care you are not obliged to request a DBS check ­ You must risk assess whether or not you need one


Q:   Can I ask for an Enhanced DBS (CRB) check with a barred list check?

A:    No: If you decide you do want to have the new staff member checked you may only request a Standard Check.


Q:   She walks through the patient areas on her way home, isn’t that patient contact?

A:    No: The fact that the new member of staff passes through reception on their way to and from their office is irrelevant.  It does not put them in direct contact with patients in the course of their work.


Q:   The employee will be handling confidential information, doesn’t that make them a risk to patients?

A:    No: The fact that the employee is handling patient information does not make them a risk to patients. Any breach of confidentiality should be addressed through your Confidentiality Policy.


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Updated on Friday, 22 October 2021 21255 views