Interim orders and not having the necessary knowledge of English

Reference: INT-2e

Last Updated 28/07/2017



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In cases involving language concerns, particular factors that will be relevant when considering whether an interim order is necessary are likely to include:

  • the severity of any potential or actual clinical risk, or any actual or potential harm caused to patients related to the alleged lack of knowledge of English
  • the results of any language assessment taken by the nurse or midwife, and
  • any refusal or persistent failure to undergo an assessment.

Any interim order imposed is subject to regular review by a practice committee and can be reviewed at any time when new relevant evidence becomes available. This could include any evidence of knowledge of English sent to us by the nurse or midwife concerned.

Proportionate orders in knowledge of English cases

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Panels considering imposing an interim order will always assess whether workable conditions can be identified to deal with the risks presented by the nurse or midwife’s knowledge of English. They do this by assessing the evidence about those risks. In assessing which conditions might be workable, and proportionate, decision makers will bear in mind the powers available to the Registrar when investigating the case, which includes a power to direct the nurse or midwife to take a language test and provide us with the results by a specific date.1

The primary purpose of an interim order is to protect the public while the case is being investigated, focusing on the risk to patients from any alleged shortcomings in the nurse or midwife’s practice. Proportionate measures to protect patients could include supervision or observation by other nurses or midwives. Interim orders that require the nurse or midwife to supply us with evidence (by ordering them to take a test) are less likely to provide a proportionate way of protecting the public from the risks the nurse or midwife’s knowledge of English poses. 

1 Rule 6B(3B) of the Fitness to Practise Rules 2004.