The former owner of Lilydale’s GP practice is charging patients to have their medical histories transferred back to the clinic, and has reportedly refused to allow the new owners to keep the old phone number.
The Lilydale GP Clinic closed in December, but the town’s pharmacy owners opened Lilydale Family Health Care in the same building in mid-January.
The former clinic owner, Advanced Rural Health, which comes under the umbrella organisation Your Health Connect, has since been charging people to have their full records transferred back. However, it is understood medical summaries are being provided free of charge on request.
The company also owns a number of other rural clinics, including Sheffield, Westbury, Beaconsfield and Evandale.
Repeated attempts by The Examiner to contact the company this week were unsuccessful.
It is understood $30 was the standard fee charged for full medical record transfers when someone changed GP clinics in Australia.
However, because the patients did not change GPs and it was the company’s choice to close and leave the town, they were “confused and upset”.
“I don’t think people are very happy about it. For people on their own, $30 is a lot for a pensioner,” Lilydale resident Megan Wilson said.
Lilydale Family Health Care patient Peter McMurray said the community was “delighted the pharmacists were able to set up the new medical practice”.
“It’s a lot of cost and effort, especially over Christmas, and we’re delighted they were able to keep Andrey, the GP, on, because he’s a good doctor,” he said.
Mr McMurray said the former owners took the majority of medical equipment with them when they left in December.
“They wouldn’t even pass over the old telephone number, which shows how obnoxious they were being, because that telephone number has been there at that practice for yonks.”
Health Minister Michael Ferguson said he was “very pleased” a new service had been established.
“[However], it is not fair that families are being asked to pay such sums when it was Advanced Rural Health’s decision to close the surgery.
“I understand that the files are the property of the previous doctor service. With electronic record keeping there must be an easier, low cost method of transfer, subject to patient wishes.”
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Dr Bastian Seidel said the college would speak to the parties involved to see if a better solution could be reached.
“There should be a reasonable solution in the best interest of the patients,” he said.