Interim Orders Tribunals
Notice of a referral to an Interim Orders Tribunal of their regulatory body is often the most stressful and worrying letter a healthcare practitioner will receive in their career.
Notice of an Interim Orders Hearing can be the first time a professional is aware that a concern has been referred to their regulator. However, a referral to an interim hearing can arise at any point during a regulatory investigation.
What are interim orders?
Different regulators have different names; Interim Orders Tribunals, Interim Orders Committees and Interim Orders Panels. However, they all follow a similar process and apply a similar test. Interim Orders Hearings do not make decisions about whether allegations are true or not, or whether a practitioner’s fitness to practise is impaired. Their purpose is to make a risk assessment and then to decide if an order is necessary for reasons of public protection or otherwise desirable in the public interest to guard against any risk that is identified. In some cases, particularly where concerns relate to a practitioner’s health, an interim order can be imposed in the healthcare professional’s own interests.
Although they will occasionally hear from the professional themselves, Interim Orders Hearings do not consider live evidence. They work on the basis of oral submissions and documents only. The outcome of an Interim Orders Hearing can include the following:
- A practitioner’s registration can be suspended, meaning they cannot practise at all for the duration of that order;
- Conditions may be imposed that allow a practitioner to continue working, but with restrictions that manage the risk identified. Conditions often include an element of supervision; and
- Imposing no order.
Interim Orders can be imposed for up to 18 months whilst an investigation is carried out into the concerns referred to the regulator. Any order imposed is subject to periodic review which will take account of changed circumstances. At an Interim Orders Review Hearing, consideration is given as to whether an order should be varied, or whether it should be revoked entirely.
The imposition of an Interim Order may also be accompanied by local action by employers or by the body responsible for management of any performers list the practitioner is included on.
An interim order will not determine the outcome of an investigation. However, its outcome can have serious implications for a professional’s ability to work whilst the investigation is ongoing.
Interim Orders Hearings are by their nature listed at short notice. Therefore, on receipt notification of a hearing, it is important to seek legal support and advice as soon as possible to ensure there is sufficient time to gather any supporting evidence and to make the best possible presentation at the hearing.
We are on hand to assist you and to guide you through the process. Our expert healthcare solicitors have many decades of combined experience of preparing for and representing practitioners at interim tribunals. We advise on tactics and preparation for hearings aimed at securing the best possible action both at the hearing and in the context of the regulatory investigation in the longer term. Our team are also experienced advocates and able to represent you at the interim hearing, saving costs and providing continuity through a very worrying time.