The Centre for Hand and Upper Limb Surgery (Upper Limb Unit) at Wrightington Hospital was set up in 1979 by Prof John Stanley who was charged with the development of an upper limb practice dealing with the very large numbers of patients who were attending Professor Sir John Charnley's Unit with joint disease.  Although there were adequate facilities for the treatment of patient with foot and ankle, knee and hip problems, there were no such services for hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder problems.

Professor Stanley was appointed in May 1979 specifically to develop an upper limb service.  Over the next 12 years the Upper Limb Unit developed from Professor Stanley alone to Professor Stanley with a large number of trainees and a very well developed supportive therapy unit. 

In 1992 Mr Ian Trail was appointed and took over the responsibility for developing a shoulder surgery service.  Whilst he shared the considerable work load that had been generated over the previous 10 years, it became apparent quite quickly that the over load of cases was too much for just the two surgeons who were having great difficulties maintaining the service against the huge demand that was being placed upon it. 

Therefore, Mr John Stilwell , a plastic surgeon with considerable experience in hand and upper limb surgery was appointed and provided a very welcome addition to the Upper Limb Unit. 

It shortly became apparent also that the shoulder service was becoming over loaded and Mr John Haines was appointed from his post in Manchester and became an integral part of the shoulder service. 

More recently Mr Raj Murali was appointed and was the link between the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary at Wigan and Wrightington Hospital providing a high quality trauma service as well as an elective orthopaedic service at Wrightington Hospital. 

The work load continued to expand and it became apparent that the expertise that had been developed over many years was of a special nature and was unique.  Therefore, it became apparent that some succession finding was required and Mr Michael Hayton was appointed to shadow Professor Stanley and ultimately take over his practice.  Within a very short time, Mr Hayton's practice itself became very large.

It then became apparent that after the retirement of Mr Stilwell a further plastic surgeon was required.  Mr Vinod Kumar was appointed, again with a considerable wealth of experience in the management of hand problems. 

Mr Lennard Funk joined the unit in 2006 to expand the Shoulder and Elbow service, with expertise in complex arthroscopic surgery, surface replacement and sports trauma surgery.

Over the years, specialist rehabilitation services have developed alongside the surgical team. The upper limb unit has two large teams of shoulder physiotherapists (with special interests and expertise in complex shoulder instability, frozen shoulder and stiff elbow), hand and wrist therapists (with vast experience in complex hand splintage and rehabilitation).

Over the 28 years since its inception, the Wrightington Hospital Upper Limb Unit has expanded and developed considerable expertise in the field of shoulder surgery, elbow replacement surgery, arthroscopy of the elbow, shoulder and wrist with special expertise of the wrist and distal radio-ulnar joint problems and hand problems.  Patients are referred from throughout the UK and Europe for opinions and treatment of difficult management problems.  The outstanding team support that each member receives has been recognised by the award of the Surgical Team of the Year in 2004 as judged by a representative of the Royal College of Surgeons.