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Stephen Hawking’s long-time nurse is struck off by the NMC

Patricia Dowdy faced charges of dishonesty, care failings and lack of qualifications

Patricia Dowdy faced charges of dishonesty, care failings and lack of qualifications


Patricia Dowdy, seen here with Professor Hawking. Picture: Shutterstock

The former nurse of physicist Stephen Hawking has been struck off the nursing register for failures in care.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said Patricia Dowdy 'failed to provide the standards of good, professional care' that it expected and that professor Hawking deserved.

Long-term association

Ms Dowdy, who was with Professor Hawking between 1999 and 2004 and re-employed from July 2013, was given an interim suspension in March 2016.

She faced multiple misconduct charges in a fitness to practise hearing relating to the care of the scientist, who died in March 2018 aged 76.

‘I am grateful to the Hawking family, as they approach the anniversary of Professor Hawking’s death, and others for sharing their concerns with us’

Matthew McClelland, fitness to practise director, NMC

The NMC said the charges included financial misconduct, dishonesty, failure to provide appropriate care, failure to cooperate with the regulator, and not having the correct qualifications.

Fitness to practise, privacy and the public interest

Neither Ms Dowdy nor her solicitor, Ian Persaud, attended the hearing, which began in February. It was held behind closed doors, a decision which has attracted criticism.

Independent MP John Woodcock, who supported constituents fighting for NMC hearings after the deaths of babies at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria, was reported as telling the Mail on Sunday: 'It is deeply concerning the NMC is seeking to reduce transparency.'

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said on Monday that hearings were sometimes held in private to keep information confidential.

'That is the basis upon which this particular hearing was conducted in private and I stand by that decision,' she wrote in a blog.

'No public interest is served by exposing the details of the health or care of an individual whose anonymity may not be guaranteed in an open hearing.'

 

'In serious cases such as this, we will take action'

NMC Matthew McClelland said: 'As the public rightly expects, in serious cases such as this – where a nurse has failed in their duty of care and has not been able to evidence to the panel that they have learned from their mistakes and be fit to practise – we will take action.

'We have remained in close contact with the Hawking family throughout this case and I am grateful to them, as they approach the anniversary of Professor Hawking's death, and others for sharing their concerns with us.'

A spokesperson for the Hawking family thanked the NMC for its 'thorough' investigation', adding: 'The family are relieved this ordeal has now concluded and that as a result of the verdict, others will not have to go through what they suffered from this individual.'


Related

Blog post by NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe


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