Healthcare Employers and DBS Barred Lists – When Should You Do a Background Check?

DBS Barred lists

While healthcare employers are increasingly focused on COVID-19 safety, other safety and safeguarding issues haven’t gone anywhere. When hiring staff, the DBS barred lists can help organisations recruit safely – but when do DBS checks apply and how can employers use them?

Certain roles require the applicant to undergo a check of either one or both of the barred lists – but organisations are not always aware when a barred list check is required.  Here, online background checking specialists uCheck have produced a handy guide which explains everything employers need to know.

What are the DBS barred lists?

The DBS is short for the Disclosure and Barring Service, who maintain two lists depending on the client groups the employee will work with.

One is a list of people who have been barred from working with children, and the other is a list of people who have been barred from working with vulnerable adults.

The barred lists allow the DBS to keep a record of people who aren’t permitted to engage in ‘regulated activity’ with children and/or vulnerable adults (we’ll explain this later) in an effort to prevent those people from doing jobs they’re unsuitable for.

Which roles require a check of the DBS barred lists?

  • A barred list check can be requested as part of an ​Enhanced DBS Check​, but only if the applicant is eligible.
  • To be eligible, the position the applicant is applying for must involve engaging in regulated activity with children and/or vulnerable adults.

Working with children

When working with children, the following activities are classed as regulated activity if done regularly:

  • Unsupervised activities: teaching, training, instructing, caring for or supervising children; providing advice or guidance on wellbeing; or driving a vehicle only for children.
  • Working for a limited range of establishments (‘specified places’) with opportunity for contact with children, for example, schools or children’s homes.

The following job roles are always classed as regulated activity with children:

  • Healthcare for children provided by, or under the supervision of, a regulated healthcare professional.
  • Personal care for children.
  • Registered childminding or foster care.
  • Managing or supervising any person who is engaging in regulated activity.

Employers can see more detailed information by  visiting the government’s guidance on regulated activity with ​children​.

Working with adults

In relation to adults, the following activities are classed as regulated activity:

  • Healthcare for adults provided by, or under the supervision of, a regulated healthcare professional.
  • Personal care for adults.
  • Social work provided by a social care worker.
  • Assisting an adult with cash, bills or shopping because of their age, illness or disability.
  • Assisting in the conduct of an adult’s own affairs under a formal appointment.
  • Conveying or transporting adults because of their age, illness or disability to or from places where they receive healthcare, personal care or social work.

For more detailed definitions, see the government’s guidance on regulated activity with ​adults​.

If the applicant’s role involves doing any of these tasks, they will be eligible for a check of the relevant barred list.

DBS Adult First checks

DBS Adult First is a service which allows people who will be engaging in regulated activity with adults to start work before they’ve obtained a DBS certificate.

A DBS Adult First check involves the applicant being checked against the adults’ barred list, and the result returned within 72 hours. Depending on the result, the applicant can begin working under supervision while they wait for their full DBS disclosure to be processed.

How do DBS Adult First checks work?

To perform an Adult First check, the DBS removes all the vowels from the applicant’s name and runs it quickly against the adults’ barred list.

There are three possible results:

  • No match exists for this person on the DBS adults’ barred list: This means the applicant can start work under supervision until the full DBS check is complete. Organisations are still advised to view the disclosure certificate when the applicant receives it.
  • Please wait for the DBS certificate before making a recruitment decision regarding this applicant: This doesn’t necessarily mean the applicant is barred from working with adults. It could be that they have a similar name or date of birth to a person on the barred list, so the DBS can’t guarantee the check is accurate and won’t release the ‘no match’ result.
  • The DBS have now completed the disclosure certificate: The full DBS check is complete, and so the employer can make a recruitment decision based on this.

Adult First checks are not a substitute for DBS checks. They should only be used in exceptional circumstances and when absolutely necessary – for example, if staffing levels are at risk of dropping below statutory requirements.

Adult First checks are not appropriate for people who will be working with adults and children. In these cases, the applicant must obtain a DBS certificate before starting work.

The DBS barred lists: A summary

The DBS barred lists are designed to prevent unsuitable people from entering the workforce – it’s an offence to employ a person to do work with children or vulnerable adults if they’ve been barred from doing so.

We hope this guide has given you some guidance on when to request a check against the DBS barred lists.

For more information, please get in touch with the uCheck team​ – they are always happy to offer advice and support to employers.


A version of this article originally appeared on ​ uCheck ​

About Lisa Baker, Editor, Wellbeing News 4262 Articles
Editor Lisa Baker is passionate about the benefits of a holistic approach to healing. Lisa is a qualified Vibrational Therapist and has qualifications in Auricular Therapy, Massage, Kinesiology, Crystal Healing, Seichem and is a Reiki Master.