NEWS HR

A Roman Catholic priest has been arrested on a misdemeanour assault charge after he was accused of groping a woman in home hospice care while giving her last rites.

Professor Stephen Hawking’s nurse has been struck off for failures over his care and financial misconduct. Patricia Dowdy, 61, who worked for the renowned scientist for 15 years, was handed an interim suspension in 2016, it emerged at the weekend. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has now found she did not “provide the standards of good, professional care we expect and Professor Hawking deserved”. Mrs Dowdy said she was upset and did not want to comment. The NMC made its decision to remove Mrs Dowdy, from Ipswich, from the nursing register at a private hearing in London. A fitness to practise panel said Mrs Dowdy’s behaviour amounted to financial misconduct, dishonesty, not providing appropriate care, failing to cooperate with the NMC and not having the correct qualifications. Matthew McClelland, director of fitness to practise, said: “As the public rightly expects, in serious cases such as this – where a nurse has failed in their duty of care and has not been able to give evidence to the panel that they have learned from their mistakes and be fit to practise – we will take action. “We have remained in close contact with the Hawking family throughout this case and I am grateful to them – as they approach the anniversary of Professor Hawking’s death – and others for sharing their concerns with us. A family spokesman said Prof Hawking’s family was “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”. “They want to thank the NMC for their thorough investigation,” he added. Prof Hawking died at his home in Cambridge in March last year aged 76 having lived with motor neurone disease for more than 50 years.

A nurse who worked for Stephen Hawking for 15 years has been suspended in a secret tribunal over allegations of ‘serious’ misconduct concerning his care. The scientist’s immediate family had lodged a complaint which prompted a long investigation into 61-year-old Patricia Dowdy. But details of the case, and the nature of the disciplinary charges against Mrs Dowdy, have been suppressed by the body which regulates nursing. The public and the media have been banned from the hearing in a move that will prompt renewed concerns about a shift towards ‘secret justice’. Because of the severity of the allegations against her, which have never been made public, Mrs Dowdy was suspended by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) when the claims came to light. The ‘substantive’ 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. It is understood that the nurse, from Ipswich, Suffolk, stopped working for Hawking at least two years before he succumbed to motor neurone disease in March last year, aged 76. When a reporter turned up at the NMC in Stratford, East London, he was denied entry and told that Mrs Dowdy’s ‘fitness-to-practise’ hearing, due to end later this month, was private. Later, the NMC said a secrecy order was granted because of Mrs Dowdy’s ‘health’, but declined to elaborate further. Asked about the allegations at her home yesterday, Mrs 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 source with knowledge of the case said the charges against the nurse were ‘pretty serious’ but declined to discuss the matter further. In 2004, ten nurses who had cared for Hawking accused his second wife, Elaine Mason, of abusing him. It is not known if Mrs Dowdy was among those who made statements to police or if that case is connected to the ongoing hearing. At the time it emerged that the author of A Brief History Of Time was repeatedly taken to hospital with unexplained injuries, such as a broken wrist, gashes to the face and a cut lip, that left his family concerned for his safety. Both he and Mrs Mason denied the allegations and police took no action. Last night, MPs and campaigners reacted with dismay to the decision to hold disciplinary hearings in secret. Independent MP John Woodcock, who helped his constituents fight for NMC hearings into midwives implicated in the needless deaths of babies at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria, warned the secrecy could increase the risk of a further tragedy. He said: ‘It is deeply concerning that the NMC is seeking to reduce transparency.’ And open justice campaigner John Hemming added: ‘Justice in the dark is never proper justice. If you want people to have confidence in the regulator, then justice needs to be done – and seen to be done.’ Prof Hawking had been confined to a wheelchair since the age of 30 and was attended to by a rota of private nurses and carers paid for by Cambridge University, where he was a mathematics professor.

A pensioner has been charged with stalking a retirement housing association employee over the course of a three year period. Robert Entwistle is alleged to have engaged in a course of conduct likely to cause the woman fear and alarm by sending her numerous unwanted communications via letters and online at Greenlaw and in Duns between January 1, 2016, and January 1, 2019. The 69-year-old of Priorwood Court, Melrose, pleaded not guilty at Jedburgh Sheriff Court to the stalking charge. A trial has been fixed for May 16 with an intermediate hearing on April 29.

A care worker was found sleeping on two chairs in a staff kitchen at a nursing home while the daughter of a patient was frantically looking for a staff member, a tribunal has heard. The daughter of the patient stated that it was difficult to awaken the care worker in question during her night duty and she found another staff member who promptly got the nurse on duty without delay. The sleeping carer was one of two carers and one nurse tasked with looking after 23 patients during the night duty. The nursing home received a complaint over the care-worker being found asleep on the job. The care assistant had been employed by the nursing home for nine years until her dismissal on June 2nd 2017 arising from the ‘sleep’ incident on May 9th 2017. The care assistant sued for unfair dismissal and a Tribunal has found that the worker was not unfairly dismissed.

A DUP councillor will be sentenced in four weeks after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a fellow nurse at a care home in Co Antrim. Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard Ian Stevenson (49), of Headlands Avenue, Ballymoney, asked the woman for a hug and then deliberately squeezed her breast before joking that he would “grope anything”. He denied the allegation. The woman said she reacted by pushing away Stevenson, who sits on Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, and told him “no”. “He just basically tried to laugh it off and made the joke,” the woman said. “It makes me nervous that somebody in that position could take such an advantage.” Defence counsel said it was unbelievable that Stevenson, a public figure and nurse of 22 years standing, do such a thing in the middle of a care home. Stevenson claimed the woman offered him a hug after he said he was going to lay a wreath on a friend’s grave, and that he at no point touched her breast. District Judge Amanda Henderson said she found the injured party’s testimony in the case against to be consistent and credible. She said Stevenson had failed to provide an explanation for why the woman would fabricate the incident after they had previously been on good terms. The court heard Stevenson has since been dismissed from his nursing position and is challenging the decision at a tribunal.

Property developer and investor Kajima has strengthened its operations in Ireland with the addition of Nigel Skinner as Project Director.

Mainstay Medical International plc, a medical device company focused on commercializing ReActiv8®, an implantable restorative neurostimulation system designed to treat an underlying cause of disabling Chronic Low Back Pain, today announces that Dr Manus Rogan has decided to step down as a Non-Executive Director of the Company with immediate effect.