ONE of Australia's largest privately owned health service providers has gone into voluntary administration, owing staff and other creditors large sums of money.
Tristar Medical Group has clinics at Kangaroo Flat, Eaglehawk and Epsom.
The full scale of the company's financial pain is still being calculated by McGrathNicol, the Melbourne-based administrators now in control of the company.
Tristar predominantly offers bulk-billing at its 29 clinics located in regional and rural areas which are traditionally under-serviced by GPs.
Administrator Matthew Caddy told the Bendigo Advertiser the clinics would continue to operate until a buyer could be found.
"Tristar Medical Group is insolvent at this stage," he said.
"There was an application for the court to wind up the company that was lodged by some of its creditors who have been owed money for a period of time.
"We applied for a postponement of the winding up application and that was consented to by the creditors."
Doctors owed unpaid wages and staff who have missed out on superannuation payments will not be told if they will receive that money until the administration period is finished.
However, Mr Caddy said those who worked ongoing shifts from last Wednesday would be paid by the administrator.
Mr Caddy said it was not yet known how much was outstanding.
"There are 225 staff and about 60 doctors," he said. "The doctors are not employees, they are consultants essentially. We are working through the company records to determine the extent of unpaid wages."
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Karen Price said the industry was being squeezed.
"It's not my place to comment on the specifics of Tristar Medical Group, (however) speaking more broadly, I can say that some practices in Victoria - and indeed, across Australia - are struggling to make ends meet and the only way they can avoid shutting up shop is moving from bulk-billing to private-billing or mixed-billing.
"This is because Medicare rebates have not kept pace with the cost of providing high-quality general practice care and that must change.
"Practices don't take the decision to move away from bulk-billing lightly; however, the reality is that they must make ends meet."
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