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Proposal for non-GP practice healthcare staff to carry out health checks for new childminders

by Madeleine Anderson and Rima Evans
2 May 2024

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Surgery healthcare staff – such as practice nurses, paramedics and pharmacists – could be allowed to complete health declarations for prospective childminders under new Government proposals aiming to ease GPs’ administrative workload.

The Department for Education (DfE) said widening the range of healthcare professionals who can complete the health checks so they don’t just fall to GPs’ shoulders could ‘speed up the process and in some cases remove the burden on GPs’.

The proposal comes as part of a DfE consultation on ‘childminder recruitment and retention’, which closes on May 10. Healthcare professionals who work in GP surgeries are being encouraged to have their say.

Under the current childminder and provider of childcare on domestic premises (CODP) registration process, Ofsted and childminder agencies (CMAs) must take steps to ensure that applicants wanting become a childminder have no health issues that could ‘impact their suitability to care for children.’

Ofsted and CMAs require the applicant to complete a health declaration – which, currently, is only able to be verified by a GP.

The paper has suggested that nurses, pharmacists, occupational therapists and paramedics working within GP practices could be added to the list of professionals able to do the health checks.

At this stage, the consultation is specifically looking to expand the list of healthcare professionals that can carry out health checks for new childminders who are registered with a CMA.

Though the Government said Ofsted, the education inspectorate that also registers childminders, would ‘also consider taking forward this proposal in light of the responses to this consultation’.

While recognising that healthcare professionals are ‘best placed to declare relevant details from the applicant’s medical record’, the consultation report acknowledged that childminder health checks can be time consuming, with some taking as long as 12 weeks to complete.

‘While these checks are not a contractual obligation for GPs, they can be burdensome, and the Government has committed to reviewing and reducing such administrative burdens where possible,’ the consultation said.

‘We are therefore considering expanding the range of regulated healthcare professionals, working within a GP surgery, who can complete health checks for prospective childminders registering with a CMA.

‘We think this could speed up the process in some cases and remove burdens on GPs, where the GP feels it is appropriate for another regulated healthcare professional to complete the checks.’

The consultation said the Department for Work and Pensions and DVLA had already introduced ‘similar flexibilities’ around health checks required by individuals.

Responses to the consultation can be submitted here.

A version of this article first appeared on our sister title Nursing in Practice