Interim orders, their purpose, and our powers to impose them

Reference: INT-1

Last Updated 28/07/2017

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What types of interim order are available?

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A panel of one of our practice committees is able to impose:

  • an interim conditions of practice order, or
  • an interim suspension order

on a nurse or midwife’s practice while a fitness to practise case is ongoing. This will only happen in cases which satisfy the test for interim orders to be made.

Interim conditions of practice order

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An interim conditions of practice order restricts a nurse or midwife’s practice in the particular ways set out by the panel that made the order. This could mean the nurse or midwife is only allowed to practise under supervision, or may have to avoid in particular areas of practice. Conditions of practice apply to the nurse or midwife’s registration, which means that, as long as the conditions are in place, they are only able to only practise as a nurse or midwife if they abide by the conditions.

Interim suspension order

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An interim suspension order means that the nurse or midwife must not practise as long as it is in place. For nurses or midwives who have more than one entry on the register, interim suspension orders will prevent them from practising as either a nurse or a midwife.

What is the purpose of interim orders?

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Interim orders protect the public from risk by restricting or suspending a nurse or midwife’s practice during our investigation and prior to a hearing. An interim order will be needed in cases where the concerns about a nurse or midwife’s practice are so serious that patient safety would be put at risk, or there would be serious damage to the reputation of the nursing and midwifery professions if they were allowed to practise without any restrictions.

Panels of the Investigating Committee and the Fitness to Practise Committee have the power to restrict or suspend a nurse or midwife’s right to practise their chosen profession. They do this after a hearing which proceeds as a risk assessment, and does not involve a hearing of the allegations.

Because of the very restrictive effects of interim orders, there is a clear need to make sure that use of these powers is proportionate to the potential harm that could result to patients or the reputation of the nursing and midwifery professions, and that good evidence of this potential harm is provided.

When does our legislation allow for interim orders to be considered?

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Our governing legislation gives our practice committees the power to impose interim orders in certain specific situations, if they consider that an interim order is:

  • necessary to protect the public
  • otherwise in the public interest, or
  • in the interests of the nurse or midwife

Our practice committees (either the Fitness to Practise Committee or the Investigating Committee, depending on the circumstances) have the power to impose interim orders if:

  • an allegation against a nurse or midwife has been referred to the Investigating Committee or the Fitness to Practise Committee but the Committee has not yet reached a final decision. In particular, where a final hearing before either Committee adjourns part way through the case, the panel hearing the case will consider whether an interim order is necessary
  • case examiners find a case to answer against a nurse or midwife and refer their case to the Fitness to Practise Committee
  • the Investigating Committee directs that a nurse or midwife’s entry on the register should be amended or removed after a deciding the entry was fraudulently procured or incorrectly made
  • after deciding that a nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise is impaired, the Fitness to Practise Committee imposes a striking-off order, a suspension order, or a conditions of practice order.