'Mind boggling': Anger at administrators' 'money grab'
FORMER patients of two financially struggling medical centres are paying the price after receiving healthcare at the businesses.
Explaining the $77 fee lumped with patients seeking medical records, the administrators of Calliope and Gladstone Valley Medical Centres said the money would "partially recoup" what was being spent the winding up the non-profitable centres.
Worrells Solvency and Forensic Accountants director Dave Hammond said the fee would contribute to the time involved in accessing the records from the company's computer servers, downloading and sending files.
Mr Hammond said there was a "lack of funds" between the two businesses, partly due to difficulties to attract medical professionals.
But Michael Harrigan, an 85-year-old former Calliope Medical Centre patient, felt like the administrators were taking advantage of "old and sick people".
Refusing to pay the $77, Mr Harrigan said he was being taken advantage of.
"I'm 85, I need a doctor ... but under no circumstances will I pay one cent," he said.
"It's mind boggling they're trying to get $77 out of old and sick people."
On The Observer's Facebook Kim Wagner said recovering medical records from the centre would cost her $231.
"It's going to cost me $231 to have mine and my children's records transferred to a new gp, this is nothing more than a money-grab," she wrote.
"They don't care what the repercussions of this surgery closing have been, or the financial difficulties this disgusting fee will cause."
Other former patients described the fee as "grubby".
The Office of the Australian Information Commission, which has received inquiries from patients regarding the medical centres' closures, confirmed the administrators were legally allowed to charge the fee.
"Under the Australian Privacy Principle 12 it is legal to charge a fee to cover the cost of producing the record (e.g. photocopying, printing and administrative costs)," a spokesperson said.
"The fee should be 'reasonable' and not discourage a patient from accessing their records."
The centres were placed in voluntary administration on September 4.
Worrells' said the purpose of the voluntary administration was to "bring about the best possible outcome" for the centres' stakeholders.