The flesh-eating Mycobacterium ulcerans infection is not a subject that many people find fascinating. However, Dr John Buntine is not many people. John trained at Royal Melbourne Hospital, initially in General Surgery under Dr Weary Dunlop, and later in his chosen specialty of Plastic Surgery under Sir Benjamin Rank. His clinical work has included all aspects of plastic surgery over the last 50 years, including burns, tendon transfer procedures for quadriplegics, and visits to West Africa with the WHO teaching surgery for patients with M. ulcerans infection, as well as other humanitarian missions.
During his long distinguished professional career, John has given an enormous amount of time to defending the independence of the profession through long service (over 30 years) to the Australian Association of Surgeons, as well as the AMA and the Australian Hand Surgery Society. His quiet but persistent determination to prevent the blights of US-style managed care becoming part of the Australian health landscape is today recognised with the presentation of a Bruce Shepherd Medal for distinguished service to independent medicine.