GP Now told: File returns or be dissolved

A controversial GP service, where patients pay a membership fee upfront, has been warned to file annual returns by the end of the month or face being dissolved.

GP Now told: File returns or be dissolved

GP Now, whose Cork clinic went into liquidation in 2014 owing €155,000, has never filed annual returns in relation to its Templeogue operation, incorporated in 2013. A strike-off notice was published by the Companies Registration Office on January 13 in relation to GP Now Templeogue Ltd. Failure to file within one month of that date will lead to it being dissolved unless the CRO receives a request in writing not to do so from an agency such as Revenue, a CRO spokesperson said.

The Templeogue clinic itself closed in November, with patients complaining there was no prior warning. When the Irish Examiner contacted its membership office yesterday, we were told there was uncertainty as to whether it would reopen. When we asked how to reclaim fees paid upfront for a service that does not currently exist, the only option offered was to instead attend the GP Now clinic in Sandyford.

GP Now continues to operate clinics in both Sandyford and Swords. An examination of the GP Now website indicates they are no longer offering a 10-year subscription, instead offering weekly or monthly membership upfront.

Patients of GP Now Cork, many of whom paid an advance a 10-year membership fee of approximately €1,000, were left substantially out of pocket when the company went into liquidation in May 2014, the year after it opened.

Even though GP Now Cork Ltd CEO Anthony McMullen told 10-year members at the liquidation meeting they would get their money back as “a gesture of goodwill”, those the Irish Examiner spoke to recently said they had heard nothing from the company.

Of 22 reviews posted on the GP Now Clinics Facebook page yesterday (www.facebook.com/GPNOWClinics/reviews/), the vast majority were negative. Most reviewers give the service the minimum one-star rating. Of three five-star reviews, one is by a Michelle McMullen, the same name as one of the directors of GP Now Templeogue Ltd.

Three of the five GP Now clinics have now closed — Cork, Portmarnock, and Templeogue — since the first clinic in Sandyford opened in 2011 amid promised of “a revolution in GP care”. The closures left administrative staff and doctors out of pocket, as well as patients.

Patients have also complained about constantly changing staff and difficulties getting appointments.

Last December, the Irish Examiner revealed patients of Dublin clinics who had paid €1,000 for a 10-year membership on the understanding the fee covered all the costs ended up being billed for blood tests, annual flu vaccinations, sick notes, and prescriptions.

The company, in an unsigned letter to members, blamed a drop in membership on foot of the extension of free GP care to under sixes and over 70s.

The additional charges applied only to people tied into long-term packages who had the most to lose.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has been contacted more than 20 times in relation to the company and said it was monitoring the situation.

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