As of April 2023, the NHS issued new guidance to recruiter about how they should be verifying the identity of people wishing to join the organisation. As the NHS employs 1.4 million people in England alone, many of us will work there at some point in our careers or know someone who will. The idea behind the new NHS identity checking standard is to tighten up processes across the organisation, and make sure that the same process is being followed for each and every volunteer and employee across this enormous organisation.

Confirming a candidate’s identity is one of the most important pre-employment requirements, and forms the foundation for all subsequent checks. The new identity check standard in the NHS lays out acceptable forms of documentary evidence and offers guidance on verifying document authenticity.


What is an identity check?

An identity check ensures an individual’s claimed identity is legitimate. This reduces the risk of employing someone impersonating someone else, trying to evade criminal detection, or claiming qualifications which actually belong to someone else. If you are not sure you have someone’s correct identity, all other checks are meaningless as they may be carried out on the wrong person.

Employers verify someone’s identity by looking at original identity documents, sometimes followed-up by in-person meetings and validation against external sources.


Identity Documents

The NHS, as with other employers, will ask candidates to present documents confirming their name, current address, and residency evidence. Best practice is to inspect the original documents face to face, although remote verification via live video calls is an alternative which is commonly used when recruiting people from other parts of the UK, or from overseas. Recruiters will take photocopies or scans of the original documents for their records. Employers must also verify that the documents they are shown are genuine and issued to the person presenting them.

In-person meetings are the only way of matching the appearance of the person applying for the NHS position. Their guidance states that if the initial identity check was done online via video link, an in-person check should be done as soon as possible.


Who Gets Checked?

In the NHS, all workers, including volunteers, students, temporary workers, and contractors, must undergo identity verification before commencing work. Workers must bring photo ID with them on their first day at work for another check. People who work in the NHS through a staffing agency should also be checked, and it’s the responsibility of NHS recruiters to make sure they have good processes in place for doing this.

One of the main issues with documents is that people change name, due to marriage, divorce, or personal preference. The NHS will request additional documentary evidence, such as marriage certificates or deeds poll certificates, to evidence any name changes. This is something to bear in mind if you have recently changed your name for any reason and have not yet got round to changing passport or driving licence to your new identity.