Mr D, a registered nurse, was called to an Interim Order Panel hearing before the NMC’s Conduct and Competence Committee last week in which the Panel decided to impose an interim suspension for a period of 12 months.
This interim suspension means that Mr D will be unable to practise during the next year, whilst the NMC investigate the allegations made against him.
The role of an Interim Order Panel is to determine whether it is necessary to restrict a registrant’s practise by means of an interim suspension or conditions of practise order whilst the regulator conducts their investigations into the allegations made. If an order is imposed, however, this will be subject to regular Interim Order Review hearings where the order can be challenged.
In this case, it is alleged that Mr D stole prescribed medication from a locked cabinet while working at a hospital. Mr D admitted to taking the medication and has received a police caution. He has since been suspended by his employer, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, which is currently carrying out an internal investigation into the matter.
In reaching their decision, the Panel noted that the allegations were serious and considered that a repetition of Mr D’s actions could easily lead to a real risk of harm to patients. The panel was also concerned about Mr D’s alleged dishonest behaviour, given that he had made an admission to the theft, and was concerned that this might be replicated in other areas of his practice. The panel therefore determined that an interim order was necessary on the grounds of public protection, and otherwise in the public interest, in order to maintain confidence in the profession and the NMC as a regulator.
When considering whether an interim conditions of practise order would be appropriate, given the circumstances of the case and in the absence of any response from Mr D, the Panel found that it was not possible to formulate any such conditions of practice which were relevant, proportionate and workable and which would meet the concerns regarding the repetition of his behaviour.
All registrant’s have a right to attend their Interim Order Panel hearing and be legally represented. Where a registrant attends their hearing and is legally represented by a specialist, their prospects of avoiding a suspension are much higher as effective representations can be made to address any concerns raised by the Panel. It is also beneficial for a registrant to remain in practise throughout the regulator’s investigations in order to demonstrate evidence of their current fitness to practise.
By Laura Hannah
We have an excellent track record in defending registrants before Interim Orders Panels by providing representation by a specialist who can make the necessary representations at the hearing or alternatively, by preparing written submissions to place before the Panel at the hearing. If you have been called to an Interim Order Panel hearing, call our specialist lawyers now on 0845 00 20736.