Having a criminal record does not automatically preclude you from seeking or securing employment in the health and social care worker. Many roles with this sector are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and require Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks which will disclose all convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings which are not protected, along with other relevant information which the police feel ought to be disclosed. Employers are entitled to take this information into account when determining your suitability for the role.
Most employers within the health and social care sector are governed by a regulating body which ensures that its members meet the professional standards set by the government. Regulating bodies with the health and social care sector include:

  • Nursing and Midwifery Council: regulates registered nurses and midwives
  • General Medical Council: regulates registered doctors to practice in the UK
  • General Social Care Council: regulates social workers
  • Care Quality Commission: regulates hospitals, care homes and other care services.

Each regulating body sets out its own guidelines for assessing an applicant’s ‘good character’ or ‘fitness to practice’ and the consideration of criminal records usually forms part of this assessment. If you are interested in applying for jobs within health and social care, it is a good idea to check the relevant regulating body’s guidance to find out what sort of factors are taken into account. The sort of factors you might expect to be considered includes:

  • Whether the information requested was disclosed
  • Nature of the offence
  • Degree of risk posed to patients/clients
  • Age at the time of offence
  • Age of offence
  • Relevancy of the offence
  • Seriousness of the offence
  • Whether there is a pattern of offending
  • Circumstances of the offence and whether the applicant’s circumstances have changed
  • Evidence of good character
  • Commitment to upholding the trust and confidence of patients/clients

If you have a criminal record and would like to seek work or voluntary employment with the health and social care sector, you might find it useful to:

  • ✓ Check the policy of the regulating body
  • ✓ Check the recruitment and/or DBS policy of the organisation to which you would like to apply
  • ✓ Find out exactly what you need to disclose
  • ✓ Prepare your disclosure
  • ✓ Prepare good quality character references (references from registered professionals with the health and social care sector usually carry more weight)
  • ✓ Try to get feedback if you are unsuccessful with your application/interview