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Home > Your registration > Fitness to practise > Interim Orders

Interim Orders

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When is an Interim Order Application made?

We have a duty to protect the public. We do this by making sure that individuals on our Register are fit to practise safely and effectively.

If we receive an allegation about a registrant that is very serious, we may apply for an interim order to prevent the registrant from practising (interim suspension order), or to place limits on their practice (interim conditions of practice order) until their case is heard at a final hearing.

We will apply for an interim order in cases where the allegation suggests that a registrant may be a risk to themselves or other people, or where there are other public interest reasons to do so.

Here are some examples of cases where we may apply for an interim order:

  • Sexual misconduct
  • Substance or alcohol misuse
  • Serious criminal investigations
  • Theft from service users
  • Serious mistakes

Please note, this is not a full list. There are other instances when we will apply for an interim order.

Each case is considered on its own merits and is risk assessed throughout the investigation process as and when new information is received. In most cases we will not apply for an interim order and registrants are free to continue practising until the conclusion of the fitness to practise proceedings.

Article 31 of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001 sets out the basis upon which an interim order application can be granted and the powers available to Practice Committee panels. The legislation can be found within the About us section of our website.

What is the role of the panel?

We must make an interim order application to a panel of one of the Practice Committees. The interim order application will be considered at a hearing. The panel will hear our application along with any submissions made by the registrant.

The role of the panel is to decide, based on the available information, whether the allegation against the registrant is so serious that it is necessary to impose an interim order.

The panel may grant an interim order on any or all of the following grounds:

  • It is necessary for public protection
  • It is otherwise in the public interest
  • It is in the interest of the person concerned

The panel’s role is solely to consider the interim order application. It is not the panel’s role to determine whether the allegation made against the registrant is proven.

The registrant is not required to defend the allegations that have been made against them at an interim order hearing.

The interim order process is separate to (but runs alongside) the investigation of a fitness to practise allegation.

What powers does the panel have?

At an interim order hearing a panel can choose to make:

  • no order- if they feel there is no risk in the registrant continuing to practise without restriction;
  • an interim conditions of practice order- which imposes conditions with which a registrant must comply for a specified period of time; or
  • an interim suspension order- which suspends a registrant from practising for a specified period of time.

A panel can impose an interim order for a maximum period of 18 months.

How will I know if an application is being made?

If we decide to apply for an interim order, we will write to the registrant to inform them of the hearing date, time and location. Registrants will also be provided with a bundle of documents that we intend to rely on in support of our application.

Interim order hearings are generally scheduled at short notice. In most cases we try to give registrants seven days’ notice of the interim order application hearing.

If a registrant lives in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, the hearing will take place in that country. Hearings held in England are usually heard at our dedicated hearings centre in London.

Registrants should keep us informed of any changes to their address to make sure they receive important correspondence from us.

Registrants have the right to attend interim order hearings and/or be represented at them (such as by a legal representative or union representative).

It is not necessary for a registrant to be represented at interim order hearings. If a registrant is unable to attend an interim order hearing, they may make written submissions for the panel’s consideration. In some circumstances evidence may also be provided to the panel remotely by telephone or video link if a registrant is unable to attend.

This is subject to prior approval by a panel and requests for evidence to be given in this manner must be made in writing in advance of the event.

Registrants may apply for an interim order hearing to be postponed or adjourned. To do so, registrants should make their request in writing setting out their reasons. Because of the nature of the interim order applications, a request for an adjournment is unlikely to be granted other than in the most exceptional circumstances.

Further information on when a hearing might be postponed to allow attendance is available in the practice notes section of our website.

Interim orders can be reviewed at any time after they are made, at the registrant’s request, if new information relevant to the order becomes available.

What happens at an interim order hearing?

The panel who hear the application will decide whether the allegation is serious enough for an interim order. A presenting officer from the HCPC will present information to the panel first.

The registrant can then address the panel with any information they think will help them in their considerations.

They can also provide any documentation they think is relevant to the matter, such as references from a current employer.

Interim order hearings are usually held in public. This means that we will publish the time, date and location of the hearing on our website in advance of the hearing and members of the public and media will be allowed to attend and observe proceedings.

If an order is made at the hearing we do not publish the full written decision and reasoning of the Panel on our website but we will always publish the outcome of the hearing so that members of the public are made aware of it.

Information about an interim order is removed from our website if the order is revoked at a later date. In all other circumstances the information will remain on our website until the matter under investigation has been resolved at a final hearing.

In a limited number of circumstances the Panel hearing the interim order application may consider holding proceedings in private.

Typical examples of when applications for privacy may be considered are when the subject matter concerns an individual’s personal health or if the evidence relates to an on-going criminal investigation.

Further information about the circumstances in which a panel may consider holding proceedings in private is available here.

Please note that even in circumstances where interim order hearings are held in private we are still required to publish the outcome of the hearing on its website if an order is made.

What happens if an interim order has been made?

If an interim order has been made, it will take effect immediately.

If an interim suspension order is imposed, registration is suspended. This means that a registrant cannot practise using their HCPC registration for the duration of the interim order.

If an interim conditions of practise order is imposed, a registrant can continue to practise, subject to the conditions imposed.

The registrant must comply with the conditions imposed and must inform any employer of the interim conditions immediately. We will also inform any known employer about the interim conditions of practise.

Whilst an interim order is in place, we will continue to investigate concerns raised about a registrant under our fitness to practise processes. We will keep registrants informed about the progress of the case.

Can a registrant appeal a decision to impose an interim order?

Yes. Registrants can appeal the panel’s decision. Any appeal must be made to the High Court or the Court of Session in Scotland. Appeals must be made directly to the court.

Further information on how to lodge an appeal in the court is available on the HM Courts and Tribunals Service website.

How long does an interim order last?

A panel can impose an interim order for a maximum period of eighteen months. If we have not concluded our fitness to practise proceedings against the registrant within eighteen months, we must apply to the relevant Court to extend the interim order. This must be done before the interim order expires. The Court can grant an extension to the interim order for a further period of twelve months.

Are interim orders reviewed?

Yes. All interim orders must be reviewed in accordance with Article 31(7) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order. This means that an interim order must be reviewed:

  • six months after it has been made; and
  • every three months after that.

Registrants can request a review of an interim order at any time. This will be granted if their circumstances change or if they have new information which may affect the order that has been made. Similarly, we can request a review of an interim order at any stage if new information comes to light that is relevant to the order.

Resources and support

We are an independent statutory regulator. We do not represent any party to fitness to practise proceedings. We are unable to provide registrants with legal advice or to advocate for them in any fitness to practise proceedings.

Registrants who are subject to an interim order may wish to seek advice from their professional body or union.

We understand that the fitness to practise process can be stressful. There are a number of organisations that offer advice and support for individuals experiencing difficult personal circumstances.

Further information on interim orders is available in the practice notes section of our website.

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