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Obituary – Professor Tess Cramond

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Medical pioneer and former AMA Queensland President Professor Tess Cramond, credited with saving thousands of lives, has died.

Professor Cramond, who helped blaze a trail for women in anaesthetics and medical politics, and whose lifetime of achievement included establishing and heading Royal Brisbane Hospital’s Multidisciplinary Pain Clinic and becoming Dean of the Faculty of Anaesthetists of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, passed away on 26 December, aged 89.

She drew national and international accolades for her work advancing anaesthesia and pain medicine. Among her many awards, she received an Order of the British Empire, she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia, and she was presented with the AMA Women in Medicine Award, the Advance Australia Award and a Red Cross Long Service Award.

Hundreds gathered at Brisbane’s Cathedral of St Stephen on 8 January for her funeral, where many paid tribute to her work as medical adviser to Surf Lifesaving Australia in introducing and promoting the teaching of CPR.

She was also recognised for helping pioneer the advancement of women in medicine.

Born in Maryborough, Queensland, in 1926 as one of four daughters, Professor Cramond entered medical school in the post-war years and graduated in 1955.

She told her friend Dr John Hains in an interview in 2012 that she was drawn to anaesthesia because, “I love the panorama of medicine that anaesthetics provided”.

Professor Cramond was initially reluctant to get involved in medical politics, but eventually agreed to become State Secretary of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists.

Several years later, in 1978, AMA Queensland approached her to become State President – an offer she turned down at the time.

“I had just been appointed Professor of Anaesthetics, and I wanted to get the Anaesthetics Department established properly, so I knocked them back,” Professor Cramond recalled.

But that was not an end to it. AMA Queensland approached her again to become President in 1982.

“When I was asked a second time I thought, ‘If I knock them back again, they will never ask another woman’, so I said yes.”

But Professor Cramond made it clear that one of her proudest achievements was the establishment of the Multidisciplinary Pain Clinic.

The idea for such a clinic came to her during a visit to the United States, where she saw a similar establishment.

When she returned to Brisbane she got to work, and in 1967 the Clinic, which was to become the centrepoint of her career, was established at the Royal Brisbane. She was to serve as its Director for 42 years.

In her 2012 interview, Professor Cramond noted that one of the clinic’s major contributions was to have trained 35 pain specialists since 2000, and was gratified that the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists had established a Faculty of Pain Medicine.

Adrian Rollins