Nurse who worked for Stephen Hawking for 15 years is suspended on allegations of "serious conduct"



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A nurse who had worked for Stephen Hawking for 15 years was suspended in a secret court for alleged "serious" misconduct in his care.

The scientist's close family filed a complaint that led to a lengthy investigation into Patricia Dowdy, 61, The Mail on Sunday.

But the details of the case and the nature of the disciplinary charges brought against Ms. Dowdy have been removed by the regulator of nursing.

Patricia Dowdy (center) observes former Chancellor George Osborne greeting scientist Stephen Hawking in 2014

Patricia Dowdy (center) observes former Chancellor George Osborne greeting scientist Stephen Hawking in 2014

Patricia Dowdy (center) observes former Chancellor George Osborne greeting scientist Stephen Hawking in 2014

The public and the media were excluded from the hearing, which will raise new concerns about the move to "secret justice".

Because of the seriousness of the allegations against her, which were never made public, Ms. Dowdy was suspended by the Council of Nurses and Midwives (NMC) when the allegations were revealed.

The "background" hearing that will finally decide his fate is under way, but is held behind closed doors. And it is likely that the charges will never be publicly disclosed.

It is understood that the nurse in Ipswich, Suffolk, stopped working for Hawking for at least two years before succumbing to motor neuron disease last March at the age of 76.

When a Mail on Sunday reporter arrived at the CNS in Stratford, East London, he was denied entry and was informed that Ms. Dowdy's hearing on fitness to practice, which was to end later this month, was private.

Later, the CNM said that a secret order had been granted because of Ms. Dowdy's "health," but she had declined to clarify.

Dowdy, 61, has been suspended for serious allegations of professional misconduct for his treatment of the scientist

Dowdy, 61, has been suspended for serious allegations of professional misconduct for his treatment of the scientist

Dowdy, 61, has been suspended for serious allegations of professional misconduct for his treatment of the scientist

Asked about the allegations at her home yesterday, Ms. Dowdy said, "It's very upsetting. Can I just say "no comment" at the moment? I'm not supposed to talk to anyone.

A source familiar with the case said the charges against the nurse were "pretty serious," but declined to continue the discussion. In 2004, ten nurses who cared for Hawking accused his second wife, Elaine Mason, of mistreating her. It is not known whether Ms. Dowdy was among those who made statements to the police or whether this case is related to the current hearing.

At the time, it appeared that the author of A Brief History Of Time had been repeatedly driven to the hospital with unexplained injuries, such as a broken wrist, cuts in the face and a cut lip, leaving his family worried for his safety. Ms. Mason and he denied the allegations and the police took no action.

Last night, MPs and activists were appalled by the decision to hold disciplinary hearings in secret.

The details of the case and the nature of the disciplinary charges against Ms. Dowdy were removed by the nursing regulatory body - to the fury of the scientist's family.

The details of the case and the nature of the disciplinary charges against Ms. Dowdy were removed by the nursing regulatory body - to the fury of the scientist's family.

The details of the case and the nature of the disciplinary charges against Ms. Dowdy were removed by the nursing regulatory body – to the fury of the scientist's family.

Independent MP John Woodcock, who helped his constituents fight for the CNS hearings on midwives involved in the unnecessary deaths of babies at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria, warned that secrecy could increase the risk of a new tragedy.

"It is very worrying that the NMC is seeking to reduce transparency."

Why cases like this MUST be heard in public

Parliamentarians and patient safety advocates are increasingly concerned about secrecy in the Council of Nurses and Midwives (NMC), which regulates the 690,000 nurses and midwives in the United Kingdom. Kingdom and holds disciplinary hearings.

In September 2016, he stopped issuing detailed charges against nurses and midwives prior to the NMC hearings. The coverage of hearings by national newspapers has then increased from 51 cases in 2016 to 16 in 2018.

In March, Jackie Smith, then head of the NMC, announced plans to hold public hearings "in exceptional circumstances," saying a more flexible approach would encourage people to admit more mistakes. In July, the NMC released its new Fitness to Practice strategy: "In many cases, a full public hearing may not be necessary."

The Professional Standards Authority, which oversees health and social welfare regulators, criticized the decision, noting that the very constitution of the NMC provided that cases should normally be "treated in public".

The current trend is fearing another scandal such as the "Musketeer Midwives" – whose pragmatic convictions about work have resulted in the death of 11 babies and one mother, which were revealed by The MoS in 2015 – details any disciplinary hearing may never be revealed.

John Hemming, an activist of open justice, added, "Justice in the dark is never an appropriate justice. If you want people to trust the regulator, justice has to be done and seen well done. "

Professor Hawking had been confined to a wheelchair since the age of 30 and was followed by a group of nurses and private caregivers paid by the University of Cambridge, where he was a professor of mathematics.

Mrs. Dowdy was often at his side. She was photographed with him in 2014 when he met with Chancellor George Osborne at an event in London.

A few months later, she was reportedly detained. [Hawking’s] hand, to allow a light handshake "when presented to a reporter.

Hawking married his first wife, Jane, in 1965, shortly after the diagnosis of motor neuropathy, and they had three children: Lucy, Robert, and Tim. But the celebrity has put the marriage to the test and they divorced in 1995.

He then married his nanny Elaine Mason, whose ex-husband, engineer David Mason, manufactured the Hawking voice synthesizer. They divorced in 2006.

Last night, a family spokesman said he did not want to comment on the CNG's hearing, but said, "The past year has been very painful for us."

CNG has stated that it does not intend to hold further hearings in camera.

"The hearings will generally be in public. In some cases, including in this particular case, this is not the case, because of the health of the people involved. We will continue to fully motivate the decisions we make to ensure transparency in the measures taken to protect the public and for what reasons. "

However, in many recent cases, the Department of Justice has been unable to find any published details regarding the allegations concerning nurses.

Alan Clamp, executive director of the Professional Standards Authority, which oversees health regulators, said, "We support efforts to make physical and professional fitness audiences less conflicting. Public trust, however, is an essential element of regulation. We believe open hearings are an important means of assuring the public that serious cases are handled properly. "

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