Flying doctor's fury

FED UP: Sydney cardiologist Dr Charles Thorburn
FED UP: Sydney cardiologist Dr Charles Thorburn

A VISITING cardiologist has threatened to abandon his Griffith clinic because of "arrogant and offensive" treatment by Regional Express (Rex).

Dr Charles Thorburn, who has been travelling from Sydney for more than 20 years to conduct an outpatient clinic at Griffith hospital, was so incensed with the declining service of the Griffith-Sydney flights he wrote a complaint letter to Rex chairman Lim Kim Hai.

But in an extraordinary response from the Singapore-based chairman, Dr Thorburn was questioned and ridiculed in a letter critics have seized on as evidence of Rex's contempt for its customers.

"If, as you say, you find the conditions unsatisfactory, why did you accept them in the first place?" the letter, written on instruction by Mr Kim Hai, read.

"I would be curious to know if you would reimburse any of your patients who do not get well after seeing you?"

The chairman's goading continued after Dr Thorburn asked for data on how often the Sydney-Griffith flights were delayed or cancelled.

Click on the links to read Dr Thornton's letter and Rex's response.

"We are not providing you with the statistics you are requesting for (sic)," he said.

"Perhaps in the medical profession you are used to dispensing information on how long you make your patients wait or how often you misdiagnosed."

He went on to say Rex was "still much better than all the airlines in Australia and most of the airlines in the world".

The exchange comes at a time when a new airline is poised to break the company's monopoly stranglehold on the city, set to operate the Griffith-Melbourne leg dumped by Rex this month.

An incredulous Dr Thorburn said he was now seriously considering pulling the pin on his long-standing Griffith outpatient clinic.

"If the service does not improve, I really need to assess whether I will continue to fly down to Griffith," he said.

"I found the letter I received arrogant and offensive and quite extraordinary."

He has since written to Rex board members individually to demand an apology and express his disgust at the treatment.

Dr Thorburn's original letter was prompted by a chaotic return flight from Griffith on May 25.

After the flight was delayed due to urgent repairs, passengers were bussed to Narrandera and after waiting more than four hours, they were told the plane would not be leaving and offered to be bussed back to Griffith.

Desperate to return home, Dr Thorburn was assured his seat could be transferred to a Wagga flight the next morning.

He decided to take a taxi to Wagga, at a cost of $250, arriving at a hotel at 1am and forking out another $205.

After a few hours sleep, he went to board the Wagga flight the next morning, but was told his ticket had in fact not been transferred.

A response to the claims was sought from Rex management but not received.

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