When a nurse or midwife is referred to the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC), the regulatory body will conduct an initial risk assessment. They will decide if an NMC interim order hearing is necessary. The council will only refer nurses and midwives for a hearing if they conclude that this is a necessary step to protect the public, or it is in the registrant’s own interests, or it is otherwise in the public interest.
The NMC is targeted to refer appropriate cases for an Interim Orders Hearing within 28 days of receiving the initial referral. If there is going to be an Interim Orders Hearing in a case, they generally take place in the early stages of an NMC investigation, although they can take place at any stage.
From what we have seen, the number of cases referred for an Interim Orders Hearing seems to be on the increase.
What is an Interim Order?
An interim order is a restriction or suspension of a nurse or midwife’s registration with the NMC. At an Interim Orders Hearing, a Panel may decide to make no order, to impose an interim suspension order or to impose an interim ‘conditions of practice’ order.
A suspension order
An interim suspension order suspends the nurse or midwife’s registration (pin number), therefore preventing them from working as a nurse or midwife, whilst the substantive allegation continues to be investigated. The investigation process can take up to 18 months and in more complex cases can take even longer.
NMC investigations particularly take a long time if there are parallel criminal proceedings, or the issues are clinical and necessitate an expert’s opinion.
When it is time for the substantive matter to be heard by the NMC’s Fitness to Practise Committee, a nurse or midwife who has an interim suspension order can find that they are at a serious disadvantage, as they are unable to provide evidence of current clinical competence, as they will have been prevented from being in a clinical environment, often for a substantial period.
An interim suspension order usually results in immediate financial hardship to the nurse or midwife and their family. We understand that it will also have a significant professional and emotional impact on the nurse or midwife.
Our NMC laywers have a proven track record at successfully representing nurses and midwives in Interim Orders Hearings and in achieving the best possible outcome.
Conditions of practice order
When an NMC Interim Orders Panel concludes that the threshold for suspension is not met, but that there needs to be some restriction imposed on the nurse or midwife, the panel can impose an interim conditions of practice order.
Conditions can be widespread and will often have a serious impact on the nurse or midwife and their ability to work. It is essential that any conditions that are imposed are workable and proportionate to the allegations. Fundamentally, the conditions should not be so onerous that they are tantamount to an interim suspension order.
Attending an Interim Orders Hearing at the NMC
We understand that attending an Interim Orders Hearing at the NMC is a difficult and intimidating prospect. A great deal is at stake, even before the facts of the allegation have been fully investigated.
Having an experienced solicitor to represent you at an Interim Orders Hearing can make a significant difference to the outcome. Representation will ensure that you don’t walk into the hearing alone, but that you have the assurance that you will be represented and defended by an accomplished professional.
When facing serious allegations, it may be necessary to accept that the Panel will inevitably be minded to impose an interim order. Where appropriate, therefore, efforts can be utilised to persuade the Panel that workable conditions will provide adequate protection for the public and therefore an interim suspension order is unnecessary.
Experience of attending Interim Orders Hearing at the NMC enables our lawyers to give you the best strategic advice about your individual case.
NMC Interim Order Review Hearings
If an Interim Order is made, it will be reviewed by a Panel after 6 months and thereafter every 3 months. It may be possible at a review hearing to persuade the Panel that an Interim Order is no longer necessary, or that an interim suspension order should be changed to an interim conditions of practice order.
When there has been a change of circumstances, it may be possible to request that an interim order is reviewed earlier than normal, to enable a quicker review to take place.