Tris­tar: We will fight

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

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.

“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.”

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 ElSheikh 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.

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