Felicity Reynolds qualified in medicine at St Thomas’s Hospital in 1960. She immediately took up a career in anaesthesia beginning her training in Southampton before returning to St Thomas’ from where she gained her Fellowship in 1963. After a year in Mulago Hospital, Kampala, Uganda, she spent eleven years in pharmacology. In 1971 she became Doctor of Medicine, with a thesis entitled 'The systemic toxicity of local anaesthetic drugs, with special reference to bupivacaine.' In 1978 she returned to anaesthesia to head up the new academic unit at St Thomas' Hospital and to become Honorary Consultant in charge of Obstetric Anaesthesia. In preparation for this she attended Andrew Doughty’s course in Kingston. In 1992 she was appointed Professor of Obstetric Anaesthesia and since 1996 when she retired from clinical medicine she has been Emeritus Professor. Since then she has concentrated on writing, editing and research.
Her research interests centred initially on local anaesthetics, pharmacokinetics and placental drug transfer. On her return to clinical anaesthesia her interests embraced the wider field of obstetric anaesthesia and analgesia, and complications of regional anaesthesia. Realising that drug effects were more important than drug concentrations, her main focus of attention latterly became the effects of maternal analgesia on the baby.
She has lectured in 26 countries and published four books and written 90 research papers, 80 chapters and reviews, 16 editorials, 6 reports and 91 peer-reviewed abstracts, letters etc. It is only since her retirement that she considers she has published anything that has made a difference. One paper on caesarean section in Malawi has been instrumental in increasing the use of spinal anaesthesia in Sierra Leone. Another on spinal cord damage has, she hopes, influenced anaesthetists to site spinal needles lower in the lumbar region.
She delivered the Selwyn Crawford memorial lecture in 1990 and again in 2001, and the Fred Hehre Memorial Lecture, Philadelphia USA in 1994 (the only overseas person to receive this honour to date); she was awarded the Gold medal of the Obstetric Anaesthetists Association and received a Fellowship ad eundem from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1995. She was made an honorary member of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists in 1993 and of the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland in 2001. In 2005 she was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal College of Anaesthetists and was the Albert van Steenberge Lecturer in Brussels. In 2006 she received a Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology (SOAP), the US equivalent of the Obstetric Anaesthetists’ Association. She was honoured with the Carl Koller Award at the 2007 meeting of the European Society of Regional Anaesthesia and Pain Therapy (ESRA) for lifetime achievements in regional anaesthesia. Her Carl Koller Lecture was entitled 'Obstetric Problems? Blame the Epidural!'
Among various journal activities, she was founding editor (now editor emeritus) of the International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia.
She is married to Dr Geoffrey Spencer OBE and they have a daughter, a son and a grand daughter. FJMR