British regulators have barred Stephen Hawking’s former nurse from practising after finding she failed to provide appropriate care to the late physicist.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council censured Patricia Dowdy, 61, who faced multiple misconduct charges, including financial misconduct, dishonesty, not providing appropriate care, failing to co-operate with the council and not having the correct qualifications.
Dowdy worked for Hawking between 1999 and 2004 and from July 2013 until being handed an interim suspension in March 2016.
The council said in a statement that Dowdy “failed to provide the standards of good, professional care that we expect and Professor Hawking deserved.”
The council’s Matthew McClelland said the public expects it to take action “in serious cases such as this” in which 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.”
Hawking died a year ago at age 76.
Privacy concerns surrounding hearing
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 bestseller.
Though suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (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’s family and others had shared their concerns with the council, according to the statement released from London.
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.