Obituary - Dr John Henry Stevens

Dr John Henry Stevens

1929 to 2011

Consultant Anaesthetist, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge and Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Huntingdon.

John Stevens was educated at St. Edwards School, Oxford and in 1954 he qualified MB BS (London) from St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical School. His pre-registration appointments took him to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital (1954) and later to St Helens Hospital, Hastings (1955). National Service was later spent as a Captain RAMC to the 1st Bn. Northamptonshire Regiment in Hong Kong (1955-57).

In January 1958 he was appointed Senior House Officer in Anaesthetics at Maidstone where he worked at both the West Kent General Hospital and at the ENT and Ophthalmic Hospital. In 1959 he was appointed registrar in Anaesthetics at the Newcastle General Hospital under Dr Philip Ayre and passed the Final FFARCS in January 1960.

He was appointed Senior Registrar in the Department of Anaesthetics, United Cardiff Hospitals (July 1961). There he assisted Professor W Mushin in the preparation of his book on “Thoracic Anaesthesia” which he found both interesting and instructive. In 1964 John Stevens spent a year as an Instructor in Anesthesiology at the University of Washington, School of Medicine in Seattle, USA under the watchful eye of Dr John J Bonica, a world authority on regional and local anaesthesia. This attachment formed the basis for his life-long interest in the management of Chronic Intractable Pain.

In 1965 Dr Stevens was appointed Consultant Anaesthetist, United Cambridge Hospitals (Teaching), East Anglian Regional Board. John was an accomplished clinical anaesthetist, always punctual for his operating sessions and respected by his operating theatre colleagues.

From 1978-1980 John was elected Chairman of the Anaesthetic Division at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. This was an arduous task especially when presented with anaesthetic staff shortages which required frequent operating list cancellations. Undaunted he spent many hours carefully drafting the case for extra Consultant staff to solve his staffing problems. Indeed it was his great effort that formed the platform for a succession of new Consultant appointments at Addenbrooke’s .From 1979-85 he was Chairman of the Operating Theatre Utilisation Committee. His forte was his ability to motivate all grades of medical, surgical and nursing staff alike. He maintained his own special interest in the practice and teaching of regional anaesthetic techniques with particular reference to the treatment of chronic intractable pain. Again John did the background work which resulted in the establishment of the first Pain Consultant at Addenbrookes Hospital.

In 1984 John was appointed to the Board of External Assessors for Consultant Appointments by the Faculty of Anaesthetists at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. In the same year he was elected to the Court of Examiners of the Faculty of Anaesthetists and examined for the new Part 1 FRCA. Finally Dr Stevens joined the Committee of the Cambridge Academic Anaesthetic Trust to establish the first Professorship at Cambridge. The exercise took six years and John travelled many miles to address Regional Meetings to raise the requisite cash to fund a Professor. This exercise was successful and Cambridge University now has an excellent Academic Department based at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

John was a no-nonsense individual and he certainly contributed to his chosen speciality. Always well organised and extremely competent clinically he was ably supported by his dear wife Nia and their one daughter, Clare. He was an avid reader, keen gardener and sailor.

Dr Tom Ogg