In Brief

Stephen Hawking’s nurse accused of serious misconduct

Nurse who cared for the late cosmologist for 15 years suspended amid official investigation

A nurse who worked for Professor Stephen Hawking has been suspended amid allegations of “serious” misconduct relating to his care.

Patricia Dowdy, who worked for the scientist for 15 years, has been the subject of a long-running investigation by the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) following a complaint from his family.

But details of the case, and the nature of the disciplinary charges against the 61-year-old, have been suppressed by the body which regulates nursing, the Mail on Sunday reports.

The “hearing that will ultimately decide her fate is now ongoing – but is being held behind closed doors. And it is likely that the charges will never be publicly disclosed,” the paper says.

The NMC said that most hearing “usually take place in public,” but “in some cases, including this particular case, there are reasons why this doesn’t happen, due to the health of those involved”.

The watchdog added: “We will continue to give full reasons for the decisions we take so there is transparency about what steps have been taken to protect the public and why.”

Dowdy had stopped working for Professor Hawking two years before he died from motor neurone disease last March.

The disease left the 76-year-old almost completely paralysed, reliant on a motorised wheelchair and requiring constant nursing care.

A source with knowledge of the case said the charges against Dowdy were “pretty serious” but declined to comment further.

When asked about the allegations Dowdy said: “This is all very upsetting. Can I just say ‘no comment’ at the moment? I’m not supposed to talk to anyone.”

A spokesperson for Professor Hawking’s family also refused to discuss the matter.

In 2004, ten nurses who had cared for Hawking accused his second wife, Elaine Mason, of abusing him, says the Mail. Both he and Mason denied the allegations and police took no action.

“It is not known if Dowdy was among those who made statements to police or if that case is connected to the ongoing hearing,” the paper reports.

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