British regulators on Tuesday barred one of Stephen Hawking’s former nurses from practicing after finding she failed to provide appropriate care to the late physicist.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council struck off Patricia Dowdy, 61, who faced multiple misconduct charges, including financial misconduct, dishonesty, not providing appropriate care, failing to cooperate with the council and not having the correct qualifications.
Dowdy worked for Hawking between 1999 and 2004 and again from July 2013 until being handed an interim suspension in March 2016.
“The panel has found Mrs. Dowdy failed to provide the standards of good, professional care that we expect and Professor Hawking deserved,” said Matthew McClelland of the council. “As a result, Mrs. Dowdy will no longer be able to practice as a nurse.”
The best-known theoretical physicist of his time, Hawking wrote so plainly about the mysteries of space, time and black holes that his book “A Brief History of Time” became an international best-seller.
Though suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, Hawking stunned doctors by living with the normally fatal illness for more than 50 years. A severe attack of pneumonia in 1985 left him breathing through a tube, forcing him to communicate through an electronic voice synthesizer.
Hawking died a year ago at the age of 76.
Clouded by controversy
The hearing into Dowdy’s actions was clouded by controversy. The Mail on Sunday, which was first to report on the matter, said Hawking’s family lodged a complaint, which prompted the investigation.
A hearing, which began in February, was held behind closed doors.
The council’s chief executive, Andrea Sutcliffe, said hearings are sometimes held in private to keep information confidential.
“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,” she said.
Hawking’s family thanked the council after the verdict.
“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,” a statement said.