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Proposal for GPNs to carry out health checks for new childminders

Proposal for GPNs to carry out health checks for new childminders

General practice nurses (GPNs) could be enabled to complete health declarations for prospective childminders under new government proposals.

The Department for Education (DfE) said widening the range of healthcare professionals who can complete health checks 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.

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 have no health issues that could ‘impact their suitability to care for children.’

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

The consultation suggested 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 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 three months 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.’

CMAs were introduced by the government in 2014 to give childminders an ‘alternative registration route to Ofsted’ and to advise on registration, quality assurance and practice support.

Only 4% of childminders are registered with a CMA. The DfE is pushing to expand registration, stressing the value of CMAs as sources of ‘quality assurance and practice support’ which could be used to increase the number of childminders and childcare places in the UK.

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