Surgeon keeps his job

QUEENSLAND Health has backflipped on a decision to sack visiting orthopaedic surgeon Michael Lutz from his position at the Bundaberg Hospital.

Dr Lutz, who specialised in foot and ankle problems, spent half a day a month at the Bundaberg Hospital.

But late last week he was told his services were no longer required at the hospital and his contract would not be renewed.

His sacking sparked rumours yesterday that former Director of Orthopaedics at Bundaberg Dr Jacob Van der Westhuizen had resigned in disgust.

Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay Health Service District CEO Kevin Hegarty denied yesterday Dr Van der Westhuizen had quit.

“Dr Van der Westhuizen is still on the staff,” he said.

Mr Hegarty said the doctor was increasing his time in private work, but he was still a Visiting Medical Officer (VMO) at Bundaberg.

He said Dr Lutz had also been contacted by a senior doctor at the hospital and offered a contract renewal.

Dr Lutz had agreed verbally to accept the contract renewal.

Mr Hegarty said with Dr Van der Westhuizen cutting his hours at the hospital Dr Lutz would help fill the gap.

Member for Bundaberg Jack Dempsey welcomed the news Dr Lutz was staying, but was critical of Queensland Health's handling of the matter.

“Bundaberg needs solutions, not stunts,” he said.

“This matter has once again escalated because we don't have a local manager.”

Mr Dempsey said the community of Bundaberg needed local management of the health service and local ownership of issues.

Dr Martin Strahan, president of the Bundaberg and District Local Medical Association, was also critical yesterday of Queensland Health's handling of the VMO issue.

“We think Bundaberg Hospital has a philosophy opposed to VMOs,” he said.

“VMOs tend to be more senior, more experienced and more assertive in the workplace.”

Dr Strahan said full timers tended to be foreign doctors on work visas, and if they got into an argument with their superiors they could be told to leave the country.

“VMOs bring in more expertise, they challenge the system and often want to bring in new ways of doing things,” he said.


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