This is a preview. To continue reading please log in or Register to read this article

Recruitment and selection: health (England and Wales)

Updating author: Julie Steele
Consultant editor: Capsticks


Future developments

There are no future developments specific to NHS Employers in England and Wales.

Values based recruitment

Values based recruitment (VBR) is an approach that aims to attract and recruit employees on the basis that their values and behaviours align with those contained in the NHS Constitution, thus ensuring that each student, trainee and employee of the NHS has the right values, as well as skills and aptitudes, for their role.

More information on values based recruitment

NHS Employment Check Standards

The NHS Employment Check Standards outline the pre-appointment checks that NHS organisations are legally required to carry out. They cover six areas of pre-employment checking, namely:

  • verification of identity;
  • right to work;
  • professional registration and qualification;
  • employment history and references;
  • criminal records and barring; and
  • work health assessments.

Originally published in March 2008, the standards are periodically reviewed. They were most recently reviewed in September 2017.

NHS Employers has published an employment checks cross-reference tool (on the NHS Employers website).

Criminal record and barring checks

All new recruits into the NHS who provide healthcare and have access to patients must undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (formerly known as CRB checks). The level of check applicable is dependent on the nature of the role.

NHS Employers has published guidance on the criminal record and barring checks that employers should carry out when appointing staff. There is also a DBS check eligibility tool produced by NHS Employers, with a series of questions to answer, to help determine which level of check is required.

More information on criminal record and barring checks

Criminal history self-declaration and guidance for employers

A self-declaration of criminal history is required for certain roles. This is in addition to the employment checks that job applicants must undergo under the NHS Employment check standards. A self-declaration is also recommended where a role is not eligible for a criminal record check.

NHS Employers has published guidance on seeking self-declarations from job applicants and provided model self-declaration forms, with notes on when convictions and cautions are spent and are considered filtered out under legislative amendments made by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (Amendment) England and Wales Order 2013 (SI2013/1198). See Employment law manual > Recruitment and selection > Job applicants and convictions > Filtering of DBS checks.

More information on criminal history self-declaration

NHS streamlining programme

The NHS streamlining programme is a data sharing arrangement that allows certain personal data to be transferred from one NHS organisation to another when an individual moves job. It covers four key areas, namely: recruitment and pre-employment checks; statutory and mandatory training; occupational health; and doctors in training. The streamlining programme is aimed at improving efficiencies within the NHS. For more information see NHS streamlining (on the NHS Employers website).

Health Professional Alert Notices

An alert notice is a way for an NHS employer to make other public bodies aware of a healthcare professional who is considered to pose a significant risk of harm to patients, or where there is reason to believe that an individual will falsely hold themselves out to be a healthcare professional. This may include situations where healthcare professionals leave their employment without concerns about their health, conduct or capability having been resolved.

The National Clinical Assessment Service (NCAS), a division of the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA), is currently operating the Health Professional Alert Notice system.

Prior to shortlisting, employers should check against any current Alert Notices and, where appropriate, contact the origination healthcare organisation for further details.

More information on alert notices

Guidance on sharing information in relation to healthcare workers

NHS Employers provides guidance for employers on the sharing of information about healthcare workers where their conduct or performance has indicated a public or patient safety risk. The guidance is aimed specifically at the movement of healthcare workers between the public and private sectors, and covers all healthcare workers including registered nurses, midwives, pharmacists and allied health professionals. It contains advice on pre-employment screening and references.

Appointment of consultants

The Department of Health has published guidance for use by NHS trusts when making appointments to consultant posts. The guidance outlines good practice on complying with the NHS (Appointment of Consultants) Regulations 1996 and includes information on:

  • establishing the post;
  • membership of the Advisory Appointments Committee (AAC);
  • the pre-interview process;
  • the role of the AAC; and
  • the post-interview process.

A job plan will need to be included as part of the job description. Details on consultant job plans and programmed activities can be found in the Consultant 2003 (England) contract and also in the terms and conditions handbook (see also Common contract terms: health (England and Wales) > Job planning).

Appointment of locum doctors

The Department of Health has published a Code of Practice in the appointment and assessment of locum doctors. The guidance includes information on:

  • standards and conditions for appointment and employment of locums;
  • employment references;
  • health declarations;
  • criminal convictions; and
  • appointment criteria.

It also includes checklists of responsibilities and sample assessment forms.

NHS Professionals (NHSP) provides a service to employers wishing to employ locum doctors.

More information on appointment of locum doctors

Fit and proper person requirement for directors

From 27 November 2014, all NHS bodies that are required to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are required to ensure that they meet its standards for fit and proper person requirements for the appointment of directors. Comprehensive guidance is available from NHS Employers, NHS Confederation and the CQC.

More information on fit and proper person requirement for directors

Interim arrangements for trusts - deaneries

Deaneries may fall under the remit of the Employment Agencies Act 1973, as their role in the recruitment of doctors to medical training could be viewed as "employment agency" activity. Until deaneries' status under the Act is determined, the Department of Health has advised that procedures for future recruitment are revised and amended as if the Act does apply.

More information on interim arrangements for trusts - deaneries

Work experience in the NHS

NHS Careers has produced a guide to enabling work experience in the NHS. It explains:

  • the importance of work experience in shaping the future NHS workforce;
  • some of the myths about NHS employers taking on work experience students;
  • what students can learn from undertaking work experience in the NHS;
  • good practice in managing work experience programmes; and
  • the process that NHS employers should follow when taking on work experience students.

More information on work experience in the NHS

Key references


National Health Service (Appointment of Consultants) Regulations 1996 SI 1996/701 (amended by SI 2004/3365)
National Health Service (Appointment of Consultants) (Wales) Regulations 1996 (SI 1996/1313) (amended by SI 2005/3039(W.227))
Police Act 1997 (Enhanced Criminal Record Certificates) (Protection of Vulnerable Adults) Regulations 2002 SI 2002/446
Police Act 1997
Protection of Children Act 1999
Care Standards Act 2000
Health and Social Care Act 2012
Protection of Freedoms Act 2012