Dental mythbuster 19: Staff recruitment

Page last updated: 2 October 2023
Organisations we regulate

Providers should have safe recruitment procedures to ensure that all staff are suitably qualified and able to carry out their role.

We’ll look at recruitment procedures when reviewing the safe and well-led key questions.

Recruitment checks

The recruitment checks required are stated in the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 (Schedule 3).

When we inspect your practice, we expect you to:

  • have a staff recruitment policy and process that reflects this guidance
  • follow this recruitment policy when recruiting all staff.

During an inspection, we’ll ask you about recruitment procedures and check a sample of staff records. This ensures the practice is implementing its own policy and meeting these requirements. This information should be easily accessible in the practice. It should be kept securely, in line with information governance requirements.

Summary of the requirements

For all staff, you should have:

  • Proof of identity, including a recent photograph.
  • A full employment history with explanations for any gaps in employment. References are not expected for people who started work with the practice before Schedule 3 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 was implemented in 2014.
  • Documentary evidence of qualifications that are relevant to the person’s duties.
  • Documentary evidence of registration or membership of relevant professional bodies. For example, the General Dental Council.
  • Information about any physical or mental health condition relevant to a person’s capability to perform tasks. This is after reasonable adjustments are made. We do not expect to see the health certificate stating they’re suitable for work.

For staff working with vulnerable children or adults (who’ve either already worked with these groups or have previously worked in health or social care), you should have:

  • satisfactory evidence of conduct in previous employment
  • satisfactory verification to explain why their employment in that position ended.

Additional information for clinical staff includes:

  • Evidence of immunisation against the Hepatitis B virus including the level of response (titre levels). For staff who have not responded to the vaccine, or where evidence of immunity is unavailable, there must be a risk assessment. Further guidance is available in the green book, chapter 18.

DBS criminal record checks

You must consider whether someone is eligible to have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. The need for a DBS check is based on the level of contact that staff have with patients. This is particularly the case with children and vulnerable adults.

Your practice should:

  • have a process to arrange criminal record checks for staff who require them
  • assess the responsibilities and activities of staff. This can help determine whether they need a DBS check, and the level of the check.

We do not decide who is eligible for a DBS check. But we will look at whether your practice has suitable procedures and checks in place.

To help you decide about eligibility you can:

We would not usually expect to see a member of staff working while they’re waiting for the outcome of a DBS check.

If a practice allows a member of staff to start their employment while waiting for their DBS check to be completed, we expect:

  • a risk assessment to have been carried out
  • action taken to reduce any risks.

Clinical staff

Guidance states that all clinical staff require a DBS check. This includes:

  • dentists
  • dental hygienists
  • dental hygiene therapists
  • dental nurses.

Dentists contracted by the NHS should have completed DBS checks as part of their Performers List checks. In some cases, practices may use these checks rather than obtaining an extra DBS check when the dentist begins working for them.

In these cases, the practice must show suitable assurance from NHS England that an appropriate check has been completed. We also expect the practice to carry out a risk assessment to identify and mitigate any associated risks.

Non-clinical staff

There is no general requirement for non-clinical staff to have a DBS check and is dependent on their specific duties and responsibilities. A practice may not be breaching regulations if some non-clinical staff have not had a DBS check.

You need to consider each individual case, for example:

  • Non-clinical staff do not need to have a DBS check if they have access to medical records alone and no contact with patients.
  • Staff who carry out chaperone duties may need a DBS check due to the nature of these duties and the level of contact with patients.
  • Staff who supervise a baby or child, while their parent or carer is having an appointment, will need a DBS check.

If your practice decides not to carry out a DBS check for any non-clinical staff, you need to provide a clear rationale for the decision. This should include an appropriate risk assessment.

Renewing DBS checks

There's no requirement to repeat checks for staff who remain employed if there's no change in either their place or terms of work.

It's up to the employer to decide whether a new check is required. Your practice should have evidence to show that you've considered when new checks are needed. This includes carrying out risk assessments to support the decision.