The scheme, to be run by the newly created Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), has been delayed for a year and is due to come into effect in October 2009. It replaces the old Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) system.
The ISA scheme will apply to people working with children and vulnerable adults in the NHS, as well as independent social care settings. It will combine List 99 – a list of people barred from working with children – with the old POVA register.
From 12 October 2009, professionals will need to pay the one-off £64 fee to join the ISA register. The authority will use this fee to meet the cost of checking police records, via the Criminal Records Bureau, for previous convictions as well as its own barring lists.
‘The new vetting and barring scheme will replace POVA and will extend to the NHS – its regulator and other bodies will also be able to make referrals,’ said a Department of Health spokesperson.
Unions have criticised the new scheme because the cost of vetting is currently covered by the employer as a legal requirement of the recruitment process. They argue that it is unfair to transfer the cost to the employee and that nurses should not have to pay for this on top of the annual £76 charge to remain on the NMC register.
Gail Adams, Unison’s head of nursing, said: ‘They will be paying NMC registration and £64 to the ISA to be on their register. There is some question about the requirement to be on two registers.’
Julie Fagan, founder member of the Campaign Against Unnecessary Suspensions, added: ‘Why should people pay to establish that they are innocent, not guilty – especially in the light of the increased cost of [the NMC register]?’