Search for answers ... Anna Marchione, with her son John, holds a photograph of her other son William.
Search for answers ... Anna Marchione, with her son John, holds a photograph of her other son William. Photo: Ben Rushton
A SUITCASE bursts with court documents, emails to health and government authorities and dozens of pages of handwritten notes expressing fear, anger and despair.
Before Dr William Marchione died on Melbourne Cup Day in 2008 of a suspected drug overdose from sedatives, he had spent months fighting the corporate health giant Primary Health Care in court.
The 43-year-old doctor had left Darlinghurst Medical Centre 18 months before his five-year contract expired, allegedly due to threats and intimidation by Primary because he had complained about its business practices and the harassment … it affected him a great deal, it really depressed him,'' his brother John said.
Yesterday the Herald was inundated with emails and phone messages from former and current doctors working at Primary medical centres in NSW and Victoria.
It revealed that it is suing at least 36 health practitioners around the country for breach of contract.
Several doctors have alleged the company threatened to sue them unless they worked beyond their contracts - up to six months more - claiming they had not worked enough hours. They say they received legal letters either just before their contract expired or up to several weeks after.
Several doctors also alleged that the company does not record hours worked the time spent on things such as administration, reviewing results and home visits.
They also alleged Primary minimises the time worked by the doctors by recording a start time at the first consultation and an end time at the start of the last consultation, therefore missing the time of every last consultation.
''The time stops when the last patient is clocked on - irrespective of whether it takes 10 minutes or an hour to treat that patient.
This adds up to hundreds of unappropriated hours over the life of a contract,'' a Victorian doctor who did not want to be named said yesterday.
''A doctor in Victoria suffered a mental illness, took some weeks off and received a letter on Christmas Day demanding extra months be worked - he then suffered a heart attack.''
Primary rejects all the allegations  ''We don't normally track or have any reason to track any doctor.
DOCTORS WILL SOON HAVE TO CLOCK PATIENTS IN AND OUT USING PUNCH CARDS AND TIME THEIR CONSULTATIONS.
LIKE TRAFFIC COPS THEY WILL BE EXPECTED TO CHARGE A SET NUMBER OF PEOPLE EACH DAY.
WHAT A FUTURE TO LOOK FOREWARD TO!