Published: 05/08/2004, Volume II4, No. 5917 Page 7

NHS managers with concerns about the immigration status or criminal backgrounds of staff with access to radioactive materials have been urged to carry out security checks.

New anti-terrorism guidance issued by the NHS security management service asks trusts to carry out a full risk assessment of security procedures for storage and use of radioactive materials and ensure that arrangements are 'comprehensive and up to date'.

A spokesperson for the service said: 'Where a trust has concerns about the immigration status or background of someone handling radioactive materials they should take a copy of their passport and check with immigration authorities, or where staff are employed via locum agencies carry out a check to confirm their background.'

The service is also developing a memorandum of understanding with the Association of Chief Police Officers so that trusts will be able to carry out full police checks on employees handling radioactive substances.

The guidance says trusts will be asked to keep an accurate 'audit trail' for materials, including arrangements for out of hours delivery and collection.

Access to areas where materials are held should be restricted and closely monitored and all members of staff who work with radioactive sources should be provided with information in the form of 'local rules' and relevant training.

NHS SMS director of security management Alex Nagle said: 'In the hands of a doctor radioactive materials can save lives, but if used unsafely they can be deadly.