NHS workers are being forced to pay for checks to prove to bosses that they don’t have a criminal record.

Health workers employed by NHS East Lancashire require a Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) check when they start employment, and again every three years.

Depending on whether they require a standard or an enhanced CRB check, they cost either £26 or £36.

In the past the primary care trust, which covers Pendle, Burnley, Rossendale, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley has always met this cost.

But since April as part of cost-cutting measures the trust has passed that responsibility over to around 2,700 employees, a move that has shocked and angered NHS workers and unions.

Tim Ellis, regional organiser for UNISON, said: “A lot of NHS workers have to be CRB checked because their job involves contact with vulnerable children and adults.

“The normal practice is that if something is required for work, it is the duty of the employer to provide it. But in the case of NHS East Lancashire, the PCT is asking employees to pay for these checks and workers are furious about it.

“We have put in a grievance against this move and expect no staff to pay for their CRB check while the matter is in dispute.”

Janet Whitworth, NHS East Lancashire’s director of human resources, said the move was part of a range of measures looking at commissioning and providing health services for the people of Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Ribble Valley and Rossendale more efficiently and cost effectively.

She said: “Along with other PCTs, we are looking at how we can direct as much of our resources towards patient care and improvements to NHS services.

“Taxpayers expect us to manage our budgets carefully and deploy resources appropriately.

“With this in mind, we have been part of discussions happening regionally around whether or not staff should pay for their own CRB checks, as NHS trusts do not have a legal requirement to pay for them.

“The majority of organisations have agreed that staff should pay for their checks.”

However, a spokesman for Blackburn with Darwen NHS Teaching Care Trust Plus said the trust still pays for CRB checks.

And East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust confirmed it had 'no plans' to ask staff to fund their own CRB checks.