Members of the Hay community are up in arms after being charged fees to access their medical records, after the earlier-than-expected departure of Tristar Medical Group from the local medical centre.
While individuals can purchase their records for up to $25, Tristar has told Hay Shire Council that for $100,000, they will leave all medical records behind for the next medical practice.
Member for Farrer Sussan Ley has initiated discussions with Tristar’s Chief Executive in a bid to resolve the issue.
The Local Health Advisory Committee (LHAC) chairman John Perry said the company were holding the community “at ransom”.
Tristar has hit back at claims they are being unreasonable, and said they are following government regulations.
“It’s absolutely outrageous to expect council to fork out $100,000, when council received grants and helped Tristar get settled in Hay when they came,” Mr Perry said.
“Tristar gained full access to all the medical records already here when they came at no cost, and to expect us to pay for them now is just wrong.”
The backlash comes after Tristar’s withdrawal from the premises at the Medical Clinic Rooms at Murray Street on Friday, February 23, after finishing consulting services.
“This kind of demand is unheard of. Many of the patients are pensioners, and for them to get their medical records, Tristar are charging them $15 – $20, which is not affordable for them.”
Tristar Director of Clinical operations Anne Gardner hit back, saying the fees charged were administration costs, and nothing extra was being asked for.
“What generally occurs when a patient wants their medical records, is there is an administration fee patients can pay to have their medical records transferred from Tristar Medical Group to their new provider, and that admin fee is set by the NSW Government, and is capped at $25,” Ms Gardner said.
“Tristar gave the same figures to Council and let them know how many patient records there are, and Council were able to make their own calculations based on that.”
Hay resident Carroll Doyle said Tristar was being “unreasonable” in their demands.
“I think it should go further,” Ms Doyle said.
“If they are going to do it in our town, what’s to stop them from other towns? Why should we have to pay for our medical records? It doesn't make sense.”
“I’m on a pension, they are going to charge me anything from $15 – to $20, which is almost impossible for me. It stinks.”
Ms Gardner said the process was all above board, following legal requirements.
“We said if they wanted the bulk of the active records transferred, we could arrange it under E-Health security and legislative requirements, but the costing doesn’t change. There is no additional fee, it is purely the administration cost for the records.”
Member for Farrer Sussan Ley has had initial conversations with Tristar’s Chief Executive in a bid to resolve the records issue at Hay.
“We are currently waiting on additional information from the group to allow those discussions to progress,” Ms Ley said.
Current medical services
The new GP service provider, Hay Medical Services, led by Dr. Arshed, will be starting GP services earlier than originally anticipated as a result of Tristar’s departure.
Dr. Arshed has been working with Hay Shire Council, Murrumbidgee Local Health District, Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network, the NSW Rural Doctors Network and the Hay Local Health Advisory Committee to ensure a smooth handover.
Mr Perry said the Hay community’s cooperation with the earlier-than-expected changes was “heartening.”
“It has been really heartening to see the level of support and collaboration from the hospital – Murrumbidgee Local Health District, Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network, the NSW Rural Doctors Network and community members who have helped us to ensure a smooth handover of GP services with no gap in either the GP or hospital emergency cover.
Mr Perry said as a result of Tristar withdrawing services earlier than expected there may be a few teething problems, but their Health Partnership will establish a much improved service.
For more information about Health services available in Hay at this time, click here.