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 Waikato pharmacist has been found guilty of professional misconduct at a Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal hearing in Hamilton today. The man faced a charge relating to leaving methadone unlocked and available on a counter, failing to complete incident reports for two errors, leaving the pharmacy unattended at various times and asking colleagues to lie about his whereabouts, failing to notice an incorrect label on a medication bottle, dispensing incorrect medication for a prescription, and taking money from the pharmacy’s till or cash pot without authorisation of the employer. The charge was laid by the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) of the Pharmacy Council. To find professional misconduct the tribunal had to consider whether the pharmacist’s acts or omissions amounted to malpractice or negligence, and had brought or was likely to bring discredit to the profession. They then had to decide whether the act should warrant a disciplinary sanction. Tribunal chair David Carden announced the decision on Wednesday. Several, but not all, of the incidents amounted to professional misconduct, Carden said. For instance, the fact the pharmacist failed to lock up methadone in a secure cupboard as legally required was negligent but did not warrant a disciplinary sanction on its own. Similarly, the allegations he had taken money from the till or cash pot at various times was a matter between the pharmacist and his employer, rather than for the tribunal to consider. However, the fact the pharmacist left the premises at various times for 10 minutes or longer, and asked colleagues to ‘cover’ for him to his employers, was contrary to the Pharmacy’s Council’s code of ethics, Carden said. Another incident, where the pharmacist dispensed the wrong medication, also amounted to malpractice and negligence. Both sides made closing remarks before the tribunal on Wednesday. Counsel for the PCC, Anita Miller, said the pharmacist’s conduct “fell seriously short of acceptable”, breached the code of conduct for pharmacists, and amounted to professional misconduct. His actions justified a penalty to protect the public and maintain professional standards, she said. Miller said the pharmacist’s frequent absences for periods of 10 minutes or longer were contrary to his professional obligations, and the code of ethics for pharmacists, which states a charge pharmacist has to be present to dispense prescriptions. The witnesses clearly differentiated the pharmacist’s longer absences from any other staff member, she said. The fact the pharmacist had asked other colleagues to tell their employers he was at the medical centre when he was not, was a breach of trust, she said. He used the seniority of his position with other colleagues, she said. Counsel for the pharmacist, Harry Waalkens QC, said a finding of professional misconduct should only be reserved for the most serious misconduct. The conduct in question was “right at the bottom of the pile” for a disciplinary charge. “There are things that shouldn’t have happened, but they are minor,” he said. Allegations the pharmacist had taken money from the till and cash pot were suspicions, rather than clearly backed up by evidence. Waalkens made the clear distinction between borrowing the money in the form of IOUs and stealing. The pharmacist was never reprimanded for using IOUs, he said. “What’s very clear is that the pharmacy did condone it.” A charge pharmacist’s absences from the premises was not unusual but common practice, referring to another witness who said he occasionally left the pharmacy to buy lunch as well. Asking colleagues to cover for him was “human conduct”, he said. “Everybody at some stage in their life will act in a way where they might tell a white lie,” he said. The Tribunal will decide on a penalty later today.

A s.394 (Application for unfair dismissal remedy) from Anne Mitchell citing Shellharbour Private Hospital Pty Ltd has been dismissed by Fair Work Commissioner Cambridge in Sydney on 12 March 2019.

Cater Care Australia Pty Ltd will defend a s.394 (Application for unfair dismissal remedy) before Deputy President Binet in Conference Room 12.34 in Perth (Doughty).

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation and Ramsay Health Care Australia Pty Limited have a s.739 (Application to deal with a dispute) set down for hearing before Fair Work Commissioner Johns in his NSW chambers at 1pm.

A s.185 (Enterprise agreement) application from the Victorian Hospitals’ Industrial Association for the Victorian Public Health Sector (Dental Therapists, Dental Hygienists and Oral Health Therapists’) Enterprise Agreement 2018-2022 has been ratified by Fair Work Deputy President Colman in Melbourne on 12 March 2019.

A s.185 (Enterprise agreement) application from Central Healthcare Services Pty Ltd for the Central Healthcare Services Pty Ltd (Vic) Enterprise Agreement 2018 has been passed by Fair Work Commissioner Gregory sitting in Melbourne on 12 March 2019.

A s.185 (Enterprise agreement) application by Queensland Diagnostic Imaging Pty Ltd T/A Queensland Diagnostic Imaging for its Queensland Diagnostic Imaging Pty Ltd Technical Imaging Employees Enterprise Agreement 2018 has been ratified by Fair Work Commissioner Gregory sitting in Melbourne on 8 March 2019.