Tristar Medical Group’s medical clinics in regional Australia have been struggling financially for the past year and a half, with some of their doctors claiming lack of payment for weeks or months.
The chain is known for hiring international medical graduates (IMG) on limited registration to work in rural towns that have a shortage of vocational-register GPs.
One such IMG is Indonesian-born Reno Riandito, who worked at Tristar’s clinic in Wangaratta in rural Victoria for four years before leaving due to not receiving the full amount of money owed him.
Dr Riandito told Australian Doctor Newsthat he and his colleagues repeatedly begged for pay-cheques as the company went through 18 months of financial stress, and that he personally was forced to chase late payments on more than a dozen occasions from May last year.
The GP added that he felt happy and supported in his clinical role at the company, which operates some 38 bulk-billing clinics staffed by about 130 doctors in rural and regional communities across Australia.
Tristar Managing Director Khaled El-Sheikh said in a statement on Monday August 19 that policy and broader industry changes had impacted the company’s financial position.
The statements said, “the impacts of skilled migration policy changes and an economically nonviable regulatory process for doctors training pathways in general practice” had forced [medical] clinics across Australia to close down.
Dr El-Sheikh wrote to staff earlier in May guaranteeing that payments and all monies owed for services rendered were secure then and into the future.
He added in his letter on Monday that all Tristar employees had been paid in full and on time.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is set to conduct enquiries into reports of delayed payments.