Family GPs turfed out of shopping centre

UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Dr Yvonne Sundram (left) with long time patient Carmen Birkenstock outside the Acmed Surgery in Redbank Plains Shopping Centre.
UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Dr Yvonne Sundram (left) with long time patient Carmen Birkenstock outside the Acmed Surgery in Redbank Plains Shopping Centre. David Nielsen

A DOCTOR'S surgery that has been serving hundreds of patients for more than 38 years is being hastily turfed out of Redbank Plains Shopping Village.

Redbank Plains locals and Mayor Paul Pisasale are furious at the decision, which threatens to leave patients without access to a trusted husband and wife team of GPs.

Dr Yvonne Sundram and her husband Dr Ruban Ratnam say they have been given only one month's notice to vacate the shopping centre that they have been based at since the late 70s.

The decision, made by owners Alceon Captrans JV Pty Ltd, came despite the Acmed Surgery's request for a renewal of the lease.

"We asked for a renewal and heard nothing back. The usual practice is for the solicitors to warn you a couple of months before your lease expires," Dr Sundram said.

"Then we received a fax from the owner's lawyers on February 29, giving us one month's notice to leave."

Dr Sundram said she was not given any specific reasons for the decision, but said she suspected that the massive redevelopment planned for the shopping village was part of the process.

Even so, she said her practice had been told as recently as December that they were still part of future plans for the centre.

"I believe they want to put a super clinic in," she said.

"It's all about money."

The Queensland Times contacted centre managers Beacon Real Estate, seeking an explanation on why the decision was made.

A man on the other end of the phone line bluntly told us that it was a commercial decision and that there was no further comment.

Regardless of the reasoning behind it, the decision has earned the centre's owners the ire of Mayor Paul Pisasale, who said he'd received several emails from upset patients.

"Ipswich is not just about commercial decisions," he said.

"Doctors are the most important thing and I'm sick and tired of people using the excuse that it is a commercial decision.

"I want to see developers who actually care about the community.

"What they should do now is help the practice establish itself somewhere else."

Patient of 30 years, Carmen Birkenstock, said she and other older patients were scared to think what would happen to her two local GPs.

Among other things, Mrs Birkenstock credits the family practice with saving her husband Horst's life.

"I was in there the other day and people were crying - I thought somebody must have died," Mrs Birkenstock said.

"This decision could only be about one thing - money, money, money."

Centre owners Alceon Captrans JV were approached for comment, but were unable to respond before the QT deadline.

Topics:  doctors ipswich redbank plains

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