ERI bosses urged to ‘come clean’ over criminal checks

Saturday's News revealed details of the criminal record checks issue at the ERI
Saturday's News revealed details of the criminal record checks issue at the ERI
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PATIENTS’ groups have demanded to know how many staff at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary have been cleared to work without criminal conviction checks as a result of a blunder by a private contractor.

On Saturday the Evening News revealed hospital operator Consort failed to carry out Disclosure Scotland procedures on staff working at Little France. The firm has not disclosed how many staff it failed to perform the checks on, but has asked for 580 new forms from the NHS.

Today, there were calls for Consort to “come clean” with the public, while MSPs have pledged to take up with issue in parliament. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon is also being urged to carry out a review of other major hospitals in Scotland to ensure the practice is not widespread.

NHS Lothian only discovered the failure when it asked to check the background of an employee and Consort was forced to admit it had never been carried out.

Margaret Watt, chairwoman of the Scottish Patients’ Association, said patients had to know the staff around them are not criminals. She said: “If Consort want to keep this job they have to come clean and tell the public how many staff have never been checked.

“There has to be far more scrutiny over these private contracted firms and they have to be far more transparent.”

Lothians Labour MSP Sarah Boyack added: “Consort need to say exactly how many people haven’t been put through the system.

“Patients also need reassurance that the contract with the Lothian health board is going to be to be properly implemented and monitored.

“This is something which should be done as a matter of course.”

Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw MSP said the “lapse in security at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary will cause widespread concern” and called on Nicola Sturgeon to ensure the failure has not be repeated elsewhere.

Lothians Totry MSP Gavin Brown added: “Consort will need to explain to the NHS why and how this happened, but there’s also a responsibility to explain to the public why this wasn’t picked up before.”

Consort is paid £50 million per year to operate the ERI and has 580 employees including security guards, janitors and cleaners.

NHS Lothian chief Jackie Sansbury said the health board was “surprised and disappointed” at the revelation and has already called for a full contract review.

No-one from Consort was available to comment today, but a previous statement from the firm said: “Consort is investigating the reason for this lapse and is carrying out full checks.”