New medical centre’s cheap fee promise

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An Invercargill businessman is promising patients “definitely cheaper” fees at a new medical practice. 

Greg Roberts, who set up Queenstown Pharmacy in O’Connells Shop­­ping Centre in 2008, will open Midtown Medical on June 7. 

The space – a few doors along in Stratton House – was formerly occupied by Robert Harris cafe. 

“It should help break the monopoly of Queenstown Medi­­cal Centre,” Roberts says. 

He is employing former QMC locum Bruce McKinnon and a second, yet to be confirmed doctor. 

Roberts says he’s yet to set his fees but is applying to join the Wakatipu Primary Health Organisation, which attracts Government sub­sidies. 

QMC spokesman Dr Richard Macharg denies his business is a monopoly, citing Wakatipu Medical Centre and Lakes District Hospital. 

Macharg says promises of cheaper fees sound like an introductory offer. 

“If [Roberts] is going to manage to staff a medical centre in the centre of Queenstown and run it from 10 till 7 every day, he’s going to run up against the same problems we run up against – which are staff costs, rental, buying of equipment, maintaining your standards and licence. 

“It seems to be bizarre that someone could come in and claim to be some sort of magnanimous saviour of the public when in fact he’s clearly an entrepreneur who’s trying to drive his own agenda with regard to his pharmacy and his own surgery”.