Dr Elizabeth Merriman Handfield-Jones

Personal Details

Elizabeth Merriman Handfield-Jones FFARCS MRCS LRCP DA

25/02/1896 to 12/09/1971 

Place of birth: Hackney, London

Nationality: British

CRN: 715363

Previous/other family name: Nee Heath (married 1921)

 Education and qualifications

General education

Bromley High School; St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London

Primary medical qualification(s)


Initial Fellowship and type

FFARCS by Election

Year of Fellowship


Other qualification(s)

DA(RCP&S), 1936

Professional life and career

Postgraduate career

After quailifying she joined a general practice in Oxford, only subsequently developing an interest in anaesthetics. Having acquired the DA she became (in spite of the scepticism of colleagues) Oxford’s first full-time specialist, working at both the Radcliffe Infirmary and the Wingfield-Morris Hospital (later the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre). She was for a while (1938-9) an assistant in the then new Nuffield Department at the Radcliffe, but thereafter worked only at the Wingfield-Morris Hospital (becoming its senior anaesthetist) until retirement in 1962.

Professional interests and activities

A very skilled and competent anaesthetist, concerned for her patients in whom she instilled great confidence, she became known well beyond Oxford.

Other biographical information

An individual of great personality and optimism, her focus at school had been languages, but she turned to medicine after her brother was killed in action during WW1. She married Ranald M Handfield-Jones FRCS in 1921, but they separated and he left her with the responsibilty of their two sons while also dealing with the tribulations of an early specialist anaesthetist. Her other interests were in literature, gardening and music, especially the Bach choir.

Author and Sources

Author: Prof Tony Wildsmith

Sources and any other comments: Obituary. The Lancet 1971; 2: 715 | Beinart J. A History of the Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics Oxford 1937-1987. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987