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Surgeons in England awaiting their "pedophile background checks" delay kid operations.

Children's operations are being delayed and cancelled as surgeons face criminal records checks every time they work in a different part of the country, it has been warned.

Specialist surgeons working with children face delays in being cleared to start work when covering for colleagues on sick leave at other hospitals.

The repeated checks can take months and the problem is leading to delays and cancellations in treatments for children, the Royal College of Surgeons has warned.

They called for surgeons to be issued with 'passports' so their CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check from one NHS organisation is valid in another.

Richard Collins, Vice-President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “It is absolutely right that there should be robust checks for anyone who works with children, but there needs to be some common sense to ensure patients don’t suffer.

"The NHS needs flexibility to enable surgeons in specialist fields to undertake operating lists in other Trusts, often on an ad hoc basis. To require them to repeat the same time-consuming bureaucratic process each time is a completely unnecessary delay that must be revised.”

Surgeons work on the basis of sessions, usually half days, in outpatients clinics or operating and most can take up sessions at another hospital in addition to their normal workload if necessary.

The extra locum work is particularly important in highly specialised areas where there may be only a few surgeons able to carry out the work.

Surgeons also move between NHS trusts regularly while training.

The experience of David Jones, paediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital, is one example of how the system is causing problems.

He was asked to cover a colleague’s sickness leave in Leeds over December and January but the CRB check has taken so long all the clinics and operations he was due to do have been delayed.

He said: “Despite filling out all the documentation at the beginning of November, the process dragged on in spite of many phone calls to CRB from Leeds General Infirmary.

"All the clinics and lists planned for December had to be cancelled, thereby causing large numbers of very upset families. In December, I wrote to The Secretaries of State for Children, Skills & Family; The Home Office and Department of Health along with Senior Management of NHS but have had no response.

"This week’s clinics were also cancelled. My clearance finally came through on Thursday and we are trying to get clinics set up for next week. I think more than a month has been wasted needlessly and many children and their families seriously let down.”

Dr Shree Datta, Chairman of the British Medical Association’s Junior Doctors Committee, said: “There have been issues for several years with the CRB system, particularly for junior doctors, who frequently move between posts.

“In theory, the checks should already be portable - it’s entirely up to employers whether they accept previous clearance. Having to go through the process every time you move to a new hospital - which can be every six months - can result in delays in taking up posts.

"The other big issue is the amount of money it costs the NHS to repeat checks unnecessarily. Clearly the safety of children is paramount, but we’d like to see a more common sense approach, with improved communication between hospitals."

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "We recognise that there have been occasions when the requirement to undertake a check through the CRB has created local administrative difficulties. However, the requirement to undertake a CRB check provides an important safeguarding measure which should be observed in full by the NHS."

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "In the case of surgeon David Jones, the CRB completed his check within its published target of 28 days. The CRB did not receive his application until 4 December, despite Mr Jones signing his application form four weeks earlier.

"The CRB is currently receiving unprecedented demand for its service and as a result, some Enhanced checks are now taking slightly longer to complete.

"Despite this increasing level of demand, the CRB is continuing to process almost 90 per cent of Enhanced checks within the 28 day target.”


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Posted in: News by SoulRiser on February 1, 2010 @ 10:52 PM

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