London - A nurse who looked after Stephen Hawking for eight years has been struck off for financial wrongdoing and poor care.
Patricia Dowdy, 61, helped to provide the round-the-clock nursing the scientist needed as his body was ravaged by motor neurone disease.
But the Nursing and Midwifery Council began an investigation after it was alerted by Professor Hawking’s family to claims of serious misconduct.
She has now been found guilty of financial misconduct, dishonesty, not providing appropriate care and not having the correct qualifications.
Details of the allegations have not been revealed because the NMC held its hearing in secret. But a source said the financial claims involved money being spent that ‘couldn’t be attributed to Professor Hawking’s personal needs’.
A spokesman for his family said: ‘The Hawking family are relieved this traumatic 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.’
Professor Hawking, one of the world’s most acclaimed scientific thinkers and author of the bestseller A Brief History Of Time, died at his home in Cambridge last March aged 76 after living with motor neurone disease for more than 50 years. Tomorrow is the anniversary of his death.
Dowdy, of Ipswich, Suffolk, worked for him from 1999 to 2004 and again from July 2013 until her suspension in March 2016 after his family raised concerns.
The fitness-to-practise hearing at the NMC in Stratford, east London, began on February 11. It concluded yesterday when the panel struck Dowdy off the nursing register after ruling that 53 claims about her conduct, which also included failing to co-operate with the NMC, had been proven.
Ten allegations were found not to have been proven.
Matthew McClelland, of the NMC, said: ‘The panel found Mrs Dowdy failed to provide the standards of good, professional care that we expect and Professor Hawking deserved. As a result, Mrs Dowdy will no longer be able to practice as a nurse.’
Dowdy, who qualified in 1991, submitted statements to the hearing but did not attend and was not legally represented when the evidence against her was heard.
Yesterday, she declined to comment. The NMC came under fire from MPs and campaigners after it emerged it was holding the hearing in secret to prevent Professor Hawking – referred to as Patient A – being identified as the victim.
The NMC said yesterday: ‘The panel has heard and read a large volume of evidence relating to Patient A’s medical condition and care needs, as well as sensitive and personal information about his family life and close relatives.
‘Additionally, the panel was mindful of Mrs Dowdy’s right to privacy concerning her health and its bearing on this case. The panel was satisfied that these considerations continued to outweigh public interest in a public hearing.’
NMC boss Andrea Sutcliffe said this week that transparency was ‘one of our core values’.
It is the second time someone close to Professor Hawking has been accused of mistreating him.
His second wife and former nurse, Elaine Mason, was investigated in 2004 after his wrist was broken and his face was gashed.
Witnesses claimed she was abusive, but both she and Professor Hawking denied this and police decided against taking action.Daily Mail