An experienced hand surgeon at Westmead hospital has been sacked because he wants to specialise in hand surgery.

Forty year old Dr David Dilley who studied hand surgery for 12 months at the world famous Louisville, Kentucky Kleinert Hand Surgery Unit, is one of only two full-time specialist hand surgeons in Western Sydney. Westmead approached him in 1995 to join its orthopaedics department, as a specialist hand surgeon.

But last December he was told his contract at the hospital would be renewed only if he increased his hours on the areas’ general orthopaedics emergency roster.

“I am a hand surgeon,” said Dr Dilley. “That’s what I do full time and that is why the hospital approached me to join the orthopaedics department in the first place.

“But the hospital has never followed through on its understanding to set up a specialist hand unit at the hospital. Now the idea will be dumped along with me.”

Dr Dilley, who last year spoke out about Westmead’s budget crisis, has only one four hour operating session a fortnight at the hospital. He has 160 patients waiting between 12 and 18 months for elective hand surgery.

“Many of these patients are young and unable to work while they wait for surgery in the public system,” said Dr Dilley. “I have got at least 15 patients with a particular painful wrist condition and with only four hours a fortnight it would take six months to get through those alone.”

Mr Stephen Milgate, National Co-ordinator of the Australian Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons, said yesterday that this was yet another example of mindless bureaucracy preventing world class Australian doctors from doing what they excelled at and what patients needed most.

“This man is a specialist hand surgeon not an emergency orthopaedic surgeon,” said

Mr Milgate. “Hand surgery is what they asked him to do when they approached him to join the hospital five years ago, that’s what he wants to do and that’s what the people of Western Sydney need.”