Lives of the fellows

Anthony Brendan Field

b.12 April 1964 d.24 March 2005
MB BS Newcastle(1988) MRCP(1992) FRCP(2005)

Tony Field was a consultant in neurological rehabilitation at Newcastle upon Tyne. He was born and educated in Manchester and many of his family and his roots still remain in the city. However, in 1983, he moved from the north west to the north east and entered the medical school at Newcastle upon Tyne. He enjoyed his time at university and had particularly fond memories of his elective period in Sri Lanka, when he worked for the University of Peradeniya. It was over this time that he first developed an interest in the longer term aspects of medicine rather than more acute aspects of the field. This interest was confirmed during his period as a house physician attached to the rheumatology unit at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne. After further senior house officer jobs, he obtained a place on the senior house officer rotation that incorporated geriatrics and rheumatology, based in Gateshead. He enjoyed his time in Gateshead and continued to work at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital as a registrar in general and geriatric medicine. During this time he gained his membership of the College in 1992. In 1993 he moved base to Sunderland, continuing as a registrar in general and geriatric medicine.

In 1994 Tony decided to specialise in rehabilitation medicine and was appointed to the senior registrar position based at Hunters Moor Neurorehabilitation Centre. It was clear that this was a specialty that suited him and, after just two further years in training, he was appointed to the University's senior lectureship in rehabilitation medicine with the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Initially he joined a team of just two consultants and took over the running of the inpatient rehabilitation unit. The regional centre in Newcastle specialises in the rehabilitation of people with severe complex neurological disabilities and this soon became both Tony's interest and an area of particular expertise. After two years in the senior lectureship position he felt that his interest lay more in clinical medicine rather than research and he swapped across to become a full-time NHS consultant. However his interest in teaching never faded and for some years he ran the undergraduate teaching programme in rehabilitation.

Tony soon developed a reputation for his clinical skills. He was an exceptional and dedicated physician. Fellow consultants around the region knew that when they made a referral to Tony he would be on the ward quickly and give a straightforward, honest and sensible opinion. He worked hard on the inpatient unit and clinicians soon knew when patients came across to Hunters Moor they would receive the highest possible quality of care.

However, Tony did not just look after the inpatient unit, he ran an excellent outpatient service. His particular interest was the management of spasticity and the use of botulinum toxin. Indeed he developed a national reputation in these areas and lectured throughout the country. He was an exceptional teacher. He had the skill to make a complex topic clear and understandable to whatever audience he was talking to - to lay people or to experienced professionals. His love of his subject and the care for his patients shone through his talks.

Tony was also the resident IT guru at Hunters Moor and was at the forefront of developing a good quality outpatient/inpatient information system at the hospital. He began to venture into medical politics and was secretary of the consultant staff committee within Northgate and Prudhoe NHS Trust.

Sadly, Tony was prone to recurrent depression and in the latter few years of his life needed periods of hospitalisation. After a prolonged period of hospitalisation, he regrettably took his own life. It is a particular sadness for his family and his colleagues that Tony received the Fellowship of the College in March 2005, but his success in the election came through a few days after his death. He leaves a wife, Sue, and two children.

Michael P Barnes

[Brit.med.J.,2005,331,458]

(Volume XII, page web)

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