ESR links with Disclosure and Barring Service

The NHS ESR Central Team has been working in partnership with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to develop a two way link between the Electronic Staff Record and the DBS systems. The new link went live on 1st May 2014 and is now available to NHS organisations via ESR.

This new capability within ESR supports two vital business functions for NHS Employing Authorities - which in turn helps them to meet some of the key Francis’ Report recommendations.

The processes build on the existing legal duty for employers to refer individuals to the DBS and The Update Service, which allows employers to see if any relevant information has been identified about the individual since their Certificate was last issued.

The new link will trigger two key functions;  

  • Disclosure Status Updates: ESR will request regular updates on an employee’s DBS Disclosure record status and will notify holders of a new Disclosure and Safeguarding role when a change to an individual’s disclosure status occurs.
  • Barring Referral: Where an Employer refers an individual to the DBS, the link will allow high level ESR Employer Referral information to be transferred directly to the DBS Barring Team, alerting them to a potential formal referral.

As part of the Recruitment process, employing authorities should already capture DBS information within the ESR system, in line with recommendations by NHS Employers’ Employment Checks Guidance.

This new capability within ESR complements and enhances the existing arrangements within the DBS Update Service. The DBS Update Service already allows Employers to go on online to check the status of a DBS Disclosure Certificate for an applicant or employee. For more information about this service please click here 

How will the new ESR link help manage an employee's Disclosure Status?

Where an employee has subscribed to the DBS Update Service and has given their employer permission to make regular online DBS checks, their ESR Disclosure Certificate will be automatically checked by ESR processes, and where appropriate the record will be updated, every 60 days. The Disclosure and Safeguarding lead within the organisation will also be notified by ESR, where new DBS information or a mismatch on the DBS certificate number is identified. This ensures that an employer is proactively notified, where a change in circumstances arises or the DBS Certificate is deemed no longer current.   


The new link delivers the following benefits:

  • Eradicates the need for a new DBS application to be submitted for the same individual more than once, thus saving money and administrative resource.
  • DBS Information is more up to date and therefore more reliable.
  • Online Updates remove the need for manual checks.
  • Status changes are reported proactively.
  • Providing a safer workforce improves patient safety. 

The new link supports an employers legal duty to refer an individual to the Barring Team at the DBS, in the interest of safeguarding vulnerable groups.

A referral should be made by an employer where they have concerns that a person has caused harm, or poses a future risk of harm to vulnerable groups, including children. This can be in the event of a suspensions and subsequent dismissal or in the case where an employee resigns to avoid disciplinary action in relation to a safeguarding issue.

The Referral enables the DBS to make a barring decision, i.e. whether or not that the individual should be added to either or both of the Barred lists.

How will the ESR link help manage referrals to the Barring Team?

Now the link is operational, it enables employers to initiate a case referral to the DBS Barring Team. Employers are expected to provide contact information, such as name, email address and telephone number for the individual who is dealing with the referral.  For more information on this follow the fact sheet link below.

As part of the new process, the Safeguarding Lead at the employing organisation is notified when an individual is dismissed from their organisation. This prompts them to make a decision as to whether a Referral should be initiated within ESR.

Once the Referral is initiated within ESR, the employer is expected to complete the DBS Referral form to conclude the referral activities within 2 weeks. For more information click on the link below:


The new link delivers the following benefits

  • Allows the user to initiate the Barring Referral process within ESR and capture details of this, whether the individual has been dismissed or they resigned to avoid disciplinary proceedings with regard to safeguarding concerns.
  • Proactive tool which prompts the safeguarding lead to make a decision whether to Refer where an employee has been dismissed from their post for safeguarding reasons.
  • Allow the DBS to be notified of any potential referral and the appropriate contact within the organisation.
  • Providing a safer workforce improves patient safety.