Anger over patient-list sale
Families of the 13 health workers who died in the Canterbury Television building are "disgusted" the medical practice owner sold the patient list before all their loved ones were recovered from the rubble.
The Clinic owner and CTV building manager John Drew contacted at least two medical practices after the February 2011 earthquake to sell the list of 3900 patients.
The Press understands the list would have been worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was eventually sold to the Moorhouse Medical Centre on March 15 last year.
The abrupt sale offended the victims' families, who believed Drew was "too busy shopping around with the patient list" to inform them if their loved ones were dead or alive.
Drew told The Press he had a "moral and legal obligation" to find another service provider for the patients.
"The patient list has nothing to do with the situation with the recovery. I was legally obligated to find services for those patients for the continuity of care," he said.
Drew had "no comment" on how soon after the quake he offered the list to other practices or how many he offered it to.
The amount he sold the list for was "nobody's business", he said.
David Jones, general manager of the Moorhouse Medical Centre and chief executive of Better Health, bought the patient list and said that at the time of the sale Drew had his patients' "best intentions at heart".
Drew had offered the list to him and at least one other practice within a week of the quake.
"We started discussions soon after the quake and it was done and dusted by March 15," Jones said.
The Clinic moved from its red-stickered premises in Gloucester St into the CTV building only weeks before the quake.
Its original premises stood up to the quake, but 13 staff members were lost in the CTV building.
The owner of the medical practice's former neighbouring business, The Pharmacy, said Drew had contacted a number of practices to sell the patient list only days after the quake.
Ray Sefton spoke to Drew about three days after the quake and asked where to send some of The Clinic patients who were looking for a doctor.
He recalled Drew saying: "Don't send them anywhere else. I am in talks with a few interested parties regarding the database."
Families have expressed distress over what they described as a "hasty and callous" sale of the list.
"He didn't bother to talk to us, to ring us, to tell us what was going on. He immediately took the list and went shopping," widower Maan Alkaisi said.
His wife, Dr Maysoon Abbas, was a GP at The Clinic and it took eight days for her body to be identified.
Alkaisi, a professor at Canterbury University's School of Engineering, was "disgusted" Drew had focused on selling the patient list "before we had even found them, before we knew where they were in the building, before we knew if they were still alive or not".
Widowers Brian Kennedy and Murray Grant felt "frustrated and disappointed" over Drew's actions.
Mike Berry, brother of receptionist Marion Hilbers, who died in the collapse, said it was hurtful the list had been sold so "quickly and callously".
The families had not wanted to comment on the sale until Drew had appeared as a witness at the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission of Inquiry .
Drew gave evidence this week and accepted he could have done more to prevent the CTV building's collapse, which killed 115 people.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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