Interim orders, their purpose, and when we impose them

Reference: INT-1

Last Updated 12/10/2018

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. Interim orders will only be put in place where cases. 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. The panel will decide what conditions are necessary to deal with any risk with the nurse or midwife’s practice. This could mean the nurse or midwife is only allowed to practise under supervision, or may have to avoid particular areas of practice. Conditions of practice apply to the nurse or midwife’s registration. This means that a nurse or midwife can only practise if they stick to the conditions.

Interim suspension order

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An interim suspension order means that the nurse or midwife’s registration is suspended and they must not practise as long as it is in place. For nurses or midwives who have more than one entry on the register (e.g. where they are registered as both a nurse and a midwife), 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 while we investigate concerns about them. This means that an interim order will be imposed before a panel has considered the substance of those concerns. An interim order will be needed in cases where the concerns about a nurse or midwife’s practice are so serious that either:

  • 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.

Who can impose interim orders?

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Panels of the Investigating Committee and the Fitness to Practise Committee are able to restrict or suspend a nurse or midwife’s right to practise. They will consider if an interim order is required after hearing about the concerns and making a risk assessment. They do not consider whether the concerns have been proven.

Interim orders have a very restrictive effect on the nurses and midwives they are imposed on. There must be good evidence of potential harm to patients or to the reputation of the profession and the interim order imposed must be proportionate to the risk.

When can interim orders be considered?

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Our legislation sets out when interim orders can be imposed. Practice committees must 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 (which will either be the Fitness to Practise Committee or the Investigating Committee, depending on the circumstances) are able 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. This might be where a final hearing before either Committee adjourns part way through the case, and the panel hearing the case thinks that an interim order is necessary given what they have heard
  • 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 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. An interim order is imposed at this stage to cover the period before the sanction comes into effect, which is usually 28 days after the date on which the decision letter is served. The interim order can be imposed for a period up to 18 months to cover any potential appeal.

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