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  • Writer's pictureDavid Harper

Why we encourage locum pharmacists to get an Enhanced DBS check

Updated: Feb 28

The ‘DBS Certificate’ is one of our most popular queries at Pharmaseekers. A lot of people want to know what it is and whether the certificate is an essential document.


At Pharmaseekers, we strongly urge all applicants to get themselves an enhanced DBS certificate. While not having one won’t rule out locum pharmacy work altogether, it will seriously limit your opportunities. Being DBS certified is just one less hurdle to jump over when you’re looking for locum work, especially in competitive locations or businesses. In this article, we’ll look briefly at what DBS certificates are, and explain why it’s to your advantage to have one.


What is a DBS certificate?

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is a Home Office-sponsored organisation that is intended to help employers and charitable organisations make safer recruitment decisions. It does this by working alongside police forces, the ACRO Criminal Records Office and other bodies to ensure an applicant’s criminal history (or lack thereof) is available, transparent and up to date.


Employers apply to the DBS to get information on a potential employee or colleague that helps build a picture of their history. Any red flags, such as convictions or police warnings, cautions or reprimands, should be discovered in the search. Enhanced DBS certificates are generally sought when there’s a risk to children or vulnerable adults, as a person’s past behaviour is often a predictor of future behaviour. Primarily, it protects the public from harmful individuals, but it also protects the organisation from legal issues, as well as fraud or theft, for example.


The DBS certificate applies to England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Scotland has a similar system called the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme. You can find much more info on DBS and PVG in Amy’s DBS Guide.


Why should I get the enhanced DBS certificate?

Making sure you have an “Enhanced” DBS certificate will open many more doors for you as you seek work as a locum pharmacist. “Enhanced” is the third of four levels of check, and includes a wider array of spent and unspent convictions, as well as dealings with the police.


The “Basic” and “Standard” levels are generally for work that does not involve working with vulnerable people specifically (for example security work, banking or call centres). “Enhanced” delves a little deeper and is an extra layer of safety for employers and patients. Here’s why it is important.


We highly recommend locums do apply for and get themselves an Enhanced DBS check. The reason why is simply more work, let us break down for you how  it is essential to secure a lot of the work available right now.


  1. Patient Safety: In pharmacy, the number one concern is always patient safety. While there is obviously risk involved in many types of therapy, that risk should not be added to through negligent recruitment and employment. It’s a box that should be ticked by responsible pharmacies who are dealing with their communities on a daily basis, and if you’ve got a squeaky clean past and a reputation for providing excellent care, you’re helping pharmacies ensure high standards.

  2. Customer Requests: A large proportion of our customers insist the locums we book for them have a valid Enhanced DBS certificate (also signed up to the checking service). This request is not a ‘desirable’ accreditation that these customers will still book locums without. It’s an essential document and they won’t allow us to book anyone without it. As a result, you could miss out on great work by not having the certificate.

  3. The Customers: Large multiples hold the largest proportion of locum work throughout the year. The vast majority of these insist locums have a valid DBS. You may be thinking ‘Well, that’s okay, I want to avoid working for large multiples’. However, we also have a significant percentage of independent pharmacies and chains who insist upon the certificate.

  4. Limited availability: A lot of pharmacists work their locum shifts in addition to a full time job, university or family responsibilities. This often means that these pharmacists have only a few, select dates available in their diaries. Limited dates inevitably result in a smaller proportion of work we are able to offer. For these locums the document is practically essential in order to receive a decent amount of work offers. No certificate and limited availability will severely undercut the potential offers available to anyone.


In Summary

Obtaining an Enhanced DBS certificate is a step that cannot be overstressed when you’re pursuing your career in the UK. The certificate serves not only as a badge of trustworthiness and safety, but also as a passport to a wider array of job opportunities across large chains, independent pharmacies, hospitals and community establishments.


In an environment where patient safety is paramount, and pharmacies are increasingly vigilant in their recruitment procedures, having this certificate significantly elevates your professional profile. Often, an Enhanced DBS is a non-negotiable requirement, so locum pharmacists without this certificate may find themselves at a disadvantage in the jobs market. 


Given the competitive landscape of locum work, especially in the most sought-after locations or positions, having requisite checks completed keeps the doors open for more work opportunities. Consider the Enhanced DBS not just as regulatory compliance, but as a sensible career move.


Additional DBS information

Amy’s DBS guide blog is a great source of information: Click Here

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