By VINNIE RODI

TRISTAR Medical Group is experiencing “significant financial strain” the organisation confirmed this week.

The Mildura Weekly believes that Tristar, which has operated in Mildura since 2003 and now boasts practices across the nation, is facing a multi-million dollar black hole.

An email obtained by the Weekly – sent to Tristar Medical Group CEO, Dr Khaled El-Sheikh, by a company investor on March 15 – details the company’s financial problems, including fears by the investor that Tristar’s mounting debt – which they claim is in the millions of dollars – will see the business, and its national assets, placed into administration and closed for good.

If this is the case, the flow-on effects for the Sunraysia community could be profound, with the GP crisis currently facing the region being compounded.

Tristar Medical Group Executive Director Clinical Operations, Anne Gardner, this week confirmed that the group was under financial strain, but did not reveal the full extent of the issues facing the medical practice.

She said that government regulatory changes, impacts on provision of GPs in regional and rural areas, supervision restrictions and the ongoing Medicare freeze had contributed to the group’s financial woes.

Ms Gardner said that Tristar had already been forced to close its medical practice in Wentworth, and multiple clinics in similar, smaller communities.

She did not, however, comment on the Mildura clinic’s future.

Ms Gardner also confirmed that Tristar had engaged several investment groups to discuss options to assist the company through the difficult financial period.  

“BIG Investments is one such group (of investors),” Ms Gardner said. “Any investment arrangements will be in compliance with all regulatory and industry governance.”

The Mildura Weekly can also confirm that a $2.25million loan was extended to Tristar Medical Group between Christmas 2018 and the start of the New Year from a family entity controlled by the children of Terry McMaster – the director of Dover Financial.

The Mildura Weekly was made aware of the financial issues plaguing Tristar Medical Group earlier this week, when a former employee, who chose to speak to the ‘Weekly anonymously, claimed that Tristar’s financial troubles also extended to outstanding superannuation payments to staff.

They claimed that Tristar owes approximately $1.6million in superannuation payments to employees, while claiming that they were personally owed “thousands of dollars in unpaid super.”

Ms Gardner, while not confirming whether these figures were accurate, said that Tristar have followed “the correct process, and met our obligations in full by placing a Superannuation Guarantee with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).”

“The ATO then retain oversight into ensuring all superannuation payment and interest is calculated correctly for each employee,” she said. “The ATO also oversee the payment plan in accordance with their calculations.”

Tristar Medical Group was established in 2003 with a goal to ensure that high-quality, accessible and affordable medical services would always be available to regional, rural and under-serviced communities.

Since then Tristar has grown to become one of the largest, privately-owned health service providers in Australia, offering allied and industrial health services, practice nurses, community nursing services and specialist centres, which include laser and cosmetic services.

Tristar Medical Group centres now extend across six States and Territories.