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Peter Woodruff


Distinguished surgeon and AMA member Professor Peter Woodruff has died.

Professor Woodruff, who was created a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2013 Australia Day honours for his services to medicine and his contribution to the development of national health care standards, was farewelled by a large gathering at All Saint’s Church, Brisbane, early this month after passing away on 31 January.

Professor Woodruff, who was an AMA Fellow, was remembered as a great family man, a true friend, a gifted surgeon and a resolute and powerful advocate for his colleagues and patients.

Professor Woodruff grabbed national attention at the height of the medical indemnity crisis in March 2004 when, as the serving Vice President of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, he announced he would quit private practice because of rising indemnity charges.

He made the announcement to help highlight the impossible plight facing surgeons as insurance premiums reached stratospheric levels.

The successful campaign resulted in the-then Health Minister Tony Abbott stepping in and resolving the crisis.

It was but one example of Professor Woodruff’s fearless and selfless approach to safeguarding the profession and the health care of patients.

After completing a medical degree at the University of Adelaide, Professor Woodruff got his start in the profession in Scotland, where he became a Senior Registrar before spending two years in Boston as a Harvard Surgical Fellow.

Following this, Professor Woodruff (who was born in December 1941) returned to Australia and joined Royal Brisbane Hospital as a general surgeon.

It was here that he began to develop his particular interest in vascular surgery and became involved in the newly-emerging field of renal transplantation.

Later, Professor Woodruff moved to across town to Princess Alexandra Hospital where he joined the newly developed specialised vascular surgery unit. Displaying his talents, he went on the become Director of Vascular Surgery.

At this time he also extended his involvement in the profession and in academia, becoming President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Vascular Surgery and a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Queensland.

In addition to his distinguished surgical career, Professor Woodruff became a trusted adviser to government, serving on numerous boards and bodies.

He was a President of the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards, he served on the Private Practice Committee of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare, he was a member of the Medical Board of Queensland and a consultant to the Human Rights Commission.

Australian Association of Surgeons President John Buntine said Professor Woodruff would be sorely missed by his colleagues.

“There have been few like him,” Mr Buntine said. “He did more than is realised to maintain the high standards of Australian surgery and the independence of a committed surgical profession.”

Adrian Rollins