A new vetting and barring system breaches nurses' human rights and undermines their ability to respond to patients' needs, the Royal College of Nursing has said.
The body is seeking a judicial review of the scheme, which is designed to prevent unsuitable people from working with children and vulnerable adults.
Launched last October, the scheme was developed in response to the murder of two schoolgirls by Ian Huntley.
Under the scheme, nurses and other health staff will need to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority, which has ability to strike them off for up to 10 years if they are found guilty of certain offences.
The college argues the scheme could breach the European Convention on Human Rights by denying nurses a fair hearing or a right to appeal.
RCN Chief Executive, Peter Carter, has written to Home Secretary Theresa May to inform her of his intention to apply for a judicial review.
A Home Office spokesman said Ms May would respond in due course and noted that last month's coalition agreement already committed the government to reviewing the vetting and barring regime and scaling it back to "common sense levels".
Dr Carter said: "Of course, nursing staff recognise that the protection of children and vulnerable people is of the utmost importance. However, we are concerned that the new scheme is already failing to provide our members with a fair hearing and can result in them being disproportionately barred for 10 years for less serious disciplinary offences."
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