Dr Michael Eric Tunstall

Personal Details

Dr Michael Eric Tunstall MBBS Dr(HC) FFARCS DRCOG DA

23/06/1928 to 21/04/2011

Place of birth: Assam, India

Nationality: British

CRN: 520236

Education and qualifications

General education

Monmouth School; University College Hospital, London

Primary medical qualification(s)

MBBS, London, 1952

Initial Fellowship and type

FFARCS by Examination

Year of Fellowship


Other qualification(s)

DObs, RCOG, 1955

Professional life and career

Postgraduate career

After pre-registration house posts at the St Peter’s branch of UCH Mike served two years National Service as regimental medical officer to artillery units in Germany. He was then house surgeon at the obstetric branch of UCH, followed by a year as an anaesthetic SHO in Leicester RI before, in 1956, starting as a trainee GP with obstetric and anaesthetic duties on the Isle of Wight. There he met Dr Jim Hamer-Hodges who persuaded him to switch to anaesthetics, and he was successively registrar in Portsmouth, registrar at the Middlesex Hospital and senior registrar on the rotation between Oxford

Professional interests and activities

An original thinker, he made considerable contributions to obstetric anaesthesia, the first whilst still a trainee, the development and clinical introduction of pre-mixed nitrous oxygen and oxygen for labour analgesia. He neither sought nor wished any financial reward for this work, his primary interest being to offer better pain relief. He also developed the ‘isolated forearm’ technique for identifying awareness during light general anaesthesia, researched methoyflurane as an inhalational analgesic, and helped colleagues develop one of the the first neonatal intensive care units. An honorary research fellow of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at Aberdeen University, he received an honorary doctorate in 2006. Active in the OAA he served as president (1987-90) and received its Gold Medal (1990), having become a “giant” of the sub-specialty.

Other biographical information

Born ‘in a bucket’ in Assam where his father was a tea planter, he met his wife, Anne, after qualifying and they had three children: Chris, Gareth & Amanda. He taught all three to sail, being Commodore, Aberdeen & Stonehaven Yacht Club for 1983/4. He also enjoyed windsurfing and beach running, and took up skiing at age 55. A happy, modest man he loved both his family and his work.

Author and Sources

Author: Dr Robert Palmer

Sources and any other comments: Obituary. The Herald, Scotland, 05/05.2011 | www.oaa-anaes.ac.uk | Dr Fiona Knox, a colleague