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NHS checks on foreign workers

29th November 2007

A watchdog has warned that Scottish NHS boards need to improve criminal records checks for employees outside Europe.

The recommendation comes from Auditor General, Robert Black, and follows an Iraqi doctor from the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley being linked with the Glasgow Airport attack in June.

The report by Mr Black, based on a sample of five health authorities, found that other key checks were being properly carried out. However, one area of concern was that NHS Scotland had no accurate picture of the number of overseas staff it had.

Following the terror attack on Glasgow Airport, the Auditor General looked into the issued of staff recruited outside European Economic Area countries.

NHS boards are expected to carry out pre-employment checks on overseas staff to ensure they have the qualifications, experience and authorisation to work in the UK. Although Scots health boards use Disclosure Scotland to carry out criminal records checks, the agency has no jurisdiction to obtain such information outside Britain.

Mr Black said the Scottish NHS had a high level of compliance with its own pre-employment screening policies, but added: "Our report highlights areas where the system can be improved to ensure that accurate information is available on the number of overseas NHS staff."

However, the BMA Scotland said it was “extremely unlikely� that pre-employment checks would identify potential NHS employees people who might commit future terrorist acts.

The Scottish Government is currently revising its policy and guidance on pre-employment checks for overseas staff in the NHS.

 

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