Closed GP firm offers ‘goodwill gesture’

A GP service that offered unlimited doctor visitors for up to 10 years for an upfront fee has said it will reimburse patients left out of pocket following its closure.

GPNow Cork Ltd, which went into liquidation owing creditors in excess of €155,000, said it will reimburse patients who paid upfront fees for membership of its Cork clinic “as a goodwill gesture”.

However, deductions will be made from the customer refunds based on either:

- The number of visits the patient has already made to the clinic; or

- Based on the length of membership.

Whichever calculation is applied will be to the benefit of the company, according to accountant Robert Meleady, who chaired the creditors’ meeting in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, yesterday.

If the deduction is based on visits, a fee of €50 per visit will apply. One woman who took out family membership said if deductions-per-visit applied in her case, she would lose a substantial amount of the €1,000 she paid to join just last November, because she had two small children and had made good use of the service.

The meeting heard the money for customer refunds would not be coming from GPNow Cork Ltd, but from another company. GPNow Cork Ltd CEO, Anthony McMullen, said it was “a gesture of goodwill”.

He said about 30 people had registered with the Cork clinic for a 10-year membership. Those who took out three and one-year memberships upfront would also be refunded, he said.

However, customers who paid a monthly fee of €15 by direct debit were unlikely to be refunded the €25 registration fee.

In addition, there would be “no goodwill gesture” on behalf of companies owed approximately €155,000. Mr McMullen said group companies were the biggest creditors, owed €85,000. Other creditors included Blossom Healthcare, owed approximately €21,500, and software solution provider, Helix Health, owed almost €18,000.

Mr Meleady said they “simply found it too difficult to do business in Cork”. Asked how they kept the GPNow Templeogue clinic open, with a smaller membership than Cork, he said it benefited from the overflow of its Sandyford clinic. Asked why GPNow Cork had offered 10-year memberships until very recently, creditors were told the decision to liquidate was taken very quickly.

Barry Clarke, of Clarke Corrigan & Co, was appointed liquidator at yesterday’s meeting.

GPNow, which opened in Cork just last summer, pulled out of its Union Quay service on April 6 after emailing staff late the previous Friday. Staff have also been left out of pocket.

However, yesterday, Dr Nick Flynn confirmed a GP service will continue to operate out of the Union Quay premises, albeit unassociated with GPNow Cork Ltd. Those who wish to join can do so by direct debit for €15 a month with no registration fee or pay €35 per visit. Dr Flynn, who has an administrative role in the Union Quay premises, said patients would “not be left high and dry”.

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