Early review

Reference: REV-1b

Last Updated 28/07/2017

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Overview

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A nurse or midwife can ask for a panel to review a substantive order (caution, conditions of practice and suspension) at any time during the life of the order.1  We may also decide to carry out an early review of an order if we receive new information about the current fitness to practise of a nurse or midwife, and we consider that a different order, or no order is now required.

When will an early review be scheduled?

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In general, when we receive requests for an early review from a nurse or midwife we will arrange a review hearing.2 However, we will not accept such requests when:

  • the nurse or midwife has requested a review because they are generally dissatisfied with the outcome of a previous hearing. Where this is the case, the nurse or midwife can appeal to the High Court (in England and Wales), the Court of Session in Scotland, or the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland3
  • there does not appear to be any relevant new information for the panel to consider.

If we receive information that implies that the original order is not appropriate then we will schedule a review. We could receive information that a less serious, or conversely, a more serious order is needed to manage any risk to patients or the wider public interest. 

Examples of cases where we are likely to schedule a review include:

  • we receive information which suggests that the nurse or midwife is acting in breach of the order
  • problems in the nurse or midwife’s practice which led to the order being imposed have recurred, worsened, or the nurse or midwife’s fitness to practise appears to have got worse
  • conditions of practice have become unworkable and a review is required to allow the nurse or midwife to continue to practice while ensuring ongoing public protection
  • the nurse or midwife has complied with all conditions in the order, and/or has taken effective steps to address the problems in their practice which led to the order being imposed.

If an early review hearing is scheduled, we will send the nurse or midwife a letter of ‘notice’ to tell them about this. We will make clear in the notice that the hearing is being held under the powers of early review, and we will explain what the powers of the panel are.

Generally, any change to the order on an ‘early’ review can only have effect for the time remaining before the order expires.4  So, if a nurse or midwife requests a review shortly before the order is due to expire (less than three months before the expiry of the order), we will treat the resulting hearing as a ‘standard’ review. We will usually schedule standard reviews within eight weeks of the date of expiry of the order. This allows us time to reschedule the hearing if anything prevents the review from going ahead.

A panel’s powers

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When holding an early review, the panel has the power to:

  • confirm the order
  • extend, or further extend, the period for which the order will be in place
  • reduce the period for which the order will be in place, but in the case of a caution order the panel cannot reduce the length of it so that it only has effect for less than one year beginning with the date on which the order was originally made
  • replace the order with a striking-off order (where permissible), a suspension order, a conditions of practice order, or a caution order. Any replacement order will be in place for the remainder of the term of the order being reviewed
  • revoke the order or revoke any condition imposed by the order
  • change any condition imposed by the order
  • change any condition imposed by the order, and extend, or further extend, the period for which the order is in place.

The crucial differences between the panel’s powers on an early review and a standard review are:

  • Any change made to an order on an early review takes effect immediately, rather than when the current order expires.
  • When replacing one kind of order with another, for example, conditions of practice with suspension, the replacement order will only have effect for the remaining period of the order being reviewed.5 When the new order is then listed for a standard review before expiry the reviewing panel can make an assessment or whether or not the order needs to be extended.

Article 30(2) of the Order. Striking off orders can be reviewed under Article 30(7) or the Order
Article 30(2) provides that the relevant practice committee ‘may’ review the order on the application of the person concerned, or otherwise
Article 30(10) of the Order
Article 30(4)(d) of the Order
Article 30(4)(d)