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Tristar: We will fight for services

Tristar Medical Group leaders have declared they will fight to retain an ability to provide services across regional Australia.

Group clinical operations executive director Anne Gardner said Tristar’s primary focus was a commitment to maintaining and sustaining services.

“We are aware that each time a community reads or hears another news article reporting the same issue with regards to the financial challenges facing Tristar, this evokes concerns among its members and a real worry that they might be left without medical services,” she said.

“Tristar would like to assure you  – from the chief executive officer to our GP colleagues and our nursing and reception teams – we are an organisation made up of your community members.

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“We plan to fight to retain services in our communities and for families where ever we can.”

Ms Gardner was responding to reports in the media claiming financial pressure had led to some Tristar doctors not being paid for weeks or months.

“To clarify recent media reports, Tristar employees have all been paid in full and on time,” she said.

“Tristar is also complying with all requirements set down by the Australian Taxation Office in relation to superannuation payment obligations noting all staff members’ superannuation is guaranteed and will be received in full within the timeframe stipulated by the ATO.”

Ms Gardner told The Weekly Advertiser in May that a Medicare freeze, changes in supervision and government regulations that delayed or prevented doctors from establishing or building regional practices was hurting the business.

She said at the time, “As a consequence Tristar has gone through an intense period whereby our business has been directly challenged. This has led to windows of financial and workforce capacity strain.”

Policy changes

Ms Gardner echoed the statement again this week, adding that Tristar had ‘frequently made ourselves available’ to the media to discuss circumstances.

“There have been large numbers of medical practices close across regional and remote Australia due to the impact of skilled-migration-policy changes and an economically nonviable regulatory process for doctors-training pathways in general practice,” she said.

“Policy changes were implemented without consultation with general practitioners or industry stakeholders. Lack of consultation led to doctors having to cease their practice with little or no warning in some cases.

“Significant numbers of these doctors had been providing high-quality and affordable services for many years to regional and remote communities. 

“These same restrictions affecting the industry also prevented doctor recruitment. On numerous occasions this has led to entire communities being left with no doctor in their town. The non-consultative policy-change process over the past few years and the extended Medicare freeze has had unintended consequences across our entire primary-health-care system. Tristar is a symptom of these impacts.

“Due to our high social investment in communities of need, it is expected the focus will fall on Tristar’s experience during this period of low economic investment and short-sighted policy.”


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Ms Gardner said Tristar chief executive Dr Khaled El-Sheikh had given his time to multiple news outlets and discussed ‘on many occasions’ the impact industry challenges were having on Tristar.

“Dr Khaled El-Sheikh has tirelessly petitioned government and industry bodies in an effort to raise awareness and warn of the growing risks to communities retaining access to doctors,” she said.

“Tristar has been supported during this period by a loyal and patient-focused group of contracted medical providers. 

“Doctors remain focused on their commitment to their patients and communities.

“The bulk of GP contractors have continued to work with Tristar during our restructure period, and have voiced their ongoing support to try to retain a universal primary-health-care system and a sustainable bulk-billing service in communities of need.”

Ms Gardner said Dr Khaled El-Sheikh had been unable to respond to a media request for comment because, as a practicing doctor, he had been busy with patients.

“The lack of notice provided would have resulted in patient appointments being cancelled,” she said.

“Dr El-Sheikh is booked weeks in advance and prioritises his patient services above all else.”

Tristar Medical Group formed in 2003 and its national spread includes Wimmera clinics in Ararat, Horsham, Kaniva, Minyip, Murtoa, Nhill, Rupanyup and Warracknabeal. 

The entire August 14, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire August 14, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!