Opunake outrage after doctor 'let go'

BLANTON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 11/08/2014

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The Opunake Medical Centre will be without its much-loved American doctor after he was let go last week.

Dr Mitchell Feller has been working at the centre since March but was told on Friday he was no longer needed.

Feller and his wife are now bunking down with friends in Opunake after they were asked to vacate the home and hand back the car and cellphone supplied as part of the deal.

Dr Brent Anderson, who runs the centre, said the issue was between Feller and the international agency that recruited him. "I haven't got much information other than they have suspended his visa and medical licence."

"That's (the reason) confidential, they haven't even told me," he said.

However, a check of the New Zealand Medical Council website yesterday stated Feller was still practising and his certificate was valid until March 2015.

Attempts to contact Feller yesterday were unsuccessful, but patients spoken to by the Taranaki Daily News said they were concerned about losing a great doctor.

"I'm in outrage, Opunake struggles to get doctors as it is and he actually wanted to work here," Margaret Langton said.

She had spoken to Feller after the news broke and he was now looking for a new sponsor to take up the suspended visa and medical registration so he could stay in New Zealand.

The Taranaki Daily News understands he was sacked from the Opunake centre because he did not meet a contractual patient quota. It is understood he was required to see 24 patients a day but was seeing only about 22.

Anderson said he had not seen Feller's contact because it was made with the agency, but to keep any practice viable a doctor would need to see about four patients an hour.

Phil Brown, another of Feller's patients, said not a bad word could be said about the man and everyone wanted him to stay.

"This was the best thing to happen in Opunake for a long time, to have a great doctor who wanted to be here and sold up everything to come. We can't afford to lose him, you could talk to anyone who has had dealings with him and no one word say a bad word."

Opunake has struggled to get doctors in the past and Langton said she would be looking to take her family elsewhere if Feller could not find a new sponsor in the area.

"We just want him to stay."

Anderson assured Opunake residents a doctor service would continue and he'd already employed a new doctor who would start next month.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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