AGED CARE SCANDAL: Doctor’s 18 years of coverage ends

A DARLING Downs nursing home is at the centre of a scandal surrounding the care of at least four of its residents.

A nine-month long investigation by The Chronicle can reveal multiple cases involving the Millmerran Centenary Retirement Village, also known as Yallambee Aged Care, have been probed by health authorities.

This is the final story in a four-part series.

Some names have been changed at the request of the family.




UP UNTIL February 2017, Dr Andrew Reedy had provided bulk billed visiting medical services to Yallambee for 18 years.

He was appointed Medical Superintendent at Millmerran Hospital in 2001, with the right to private practice, which he does at Millmerran Medical Service.

Visiting medical services to Yallambee were provided through Dr Reedy's private practice. 

In a statement to The Chronicle, the board of Yallambee said Dr Reedy had "stopped visiting MCRV".

"MCRV is disappointed at Dr Reedy's continued refusal to visit his patients at MCRV," the statement said.

"Because of this refusal, MCRV is required to transport those patients who are Dr Reedy's patients approximately 500 metres, at considerable discomfort and inconvenience to those residents, many of whom are elderly and infirm."

But it was the board of Yallambee who suggested that Dr Reedy's nurse practitioner Liz Waugh was no longer welcome at their facility.

Visiting medical services at Yallambee worked like this. Mrs Waugh would attend and see the majority of patients on her weekly visit, while the most serious cases would be looked after by Dr Reedy or other GPs from the Millmerran Medical Centre.

Dr Andrew Reedy.
Dr Andrew Reedy. Bev Lacey

Toward the end of 2016, several staff at the nursing home approached Mrs Waugh with concerns they had about another Yallambee staff member.

Under national law, registered health practitioners have mandatory reporting obligations, so that's what Mrs Waugh did.

According to a complaint seen by The Chronicle, Mrs Waugh said raised her concerns with former board member Annie Muir. Mrs Muir has since resigned. She declined a request to comment on this story.

At the same time she reportedly spoke to Mrs Muir, Mrs Waugh lodged a complaint with the Office of the Health Ombudsman.

The initial complaint from November 2016 was assessed by the Office of the Health Ombudsman, referred to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, and referred back to the Office of the Health Ombudsman, before the ombudsman ruled in March this year that it would take no further action, "and close the investigation on the basis that there is insufficient evidence to prove the allegations".

Following Mrs Waugh's complaint, Yallambee board president John Rogers wrote to Dr Reedy in February 2017 saying, "the presence of Mrs Waugh at MCRV would seem an untenable situation given the gravity of her actions and allegations".

"Mrs Waugh has a professional duty to report alleged misconduct throughout her scope of practice and I respect this obligation. I do however not respect the manner in which Mrs Waugh has not respectfully raised her concerns with (the staff member) and the manner in which she has solicited and allegedly obtained evidence, including medication charts and photographs from MCRV staff," Mr Rogers wrote.

"I draw this situation to your attention and would welcome your response or an opportunity to discuss these matters. The Board of Management of MCRV Inc. has an obligation to take actions to optimise all aspects of service and care at our facility and will examine all avenues in this regard."

Nev Madsen

Mrs Waugh never returned to Yallambee. Dr Reedy interpreted this letter, and the nursing home's suggestion that Mrs Waugh's presence at the facility was "untenable" as retaliatory action for making a complaint.

The board wrote to Dr Reedy in early May 2017, requesting his agreement that MCRV engage a visiting general practitioner to provide medical services at Yallambee.

"As this matter is quite urgent I would appreciate a reply as soon as possible. Our board regards that if we do not receive a reply or a request from you for a discussion we will consider that you have agreed to the above request," the letter stated.

Since February 2017, the board has made several representations to the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service, Dr Reedy's public sector employer, in an attempt to get him to return to providing medical coverage through his private practice.

Yallambee's lawyer said Dr Reedy had "refused a request made by officers of Queensland Health that he participate in a mediation, to be facilitated by Queensland Health, with our client's board members".

Dr Reedy was contacted for this story, but said he was unable to comment on matters relating to Yallambee, citing an official caution that he would face disciplinary action from the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service if he did.

The board was able to obtain the services of a locum doctor for a brief period, but they resigned by June 27, 2017.

According to the facility, the locum doctor stopped visiting the nursing home "because of competing employment obligations".

There was no full-time visiting medical service at Yallambee for the 13 months prior to March 27, at which time another doctor was found to provide medical services to the facility.


During the locum's brief tenure at Yallambee in 2017, Ellen* received a phone call from her sister about a blood sample that had been organised for her mother, Madeleine*.

"Who organised that?" her sister asked.

Ellen hadn't given the okay, and neither had her other sister. They were the only three with authority.

Ellen said she went down to Yallambee to find the piece of paper that one of the three siblings had apparently signed to say that Madeleine could see the locum doctor instead of her usual doctor - Dr Reedy.

Yallambee said it would find the authorisation.

"I was with mum for a couple of hours and I went to leave and I said, 'I want to see this piece of paper'. But they couldn't find it. It had mysteriously disappeared."

Nev Madsen

The final straw for the family came when Ellen was forced to wheel Madeleine through the rain to get her to a doctor's appointment at the Millmerran Medical Centre.

Madeleine had an appointment at 4pm that day. Ellen arrived at 3.30pm and it was raining.

"Mum can't get in my car because I've got a big four-wheel drive. I asked them if they could take mum up to the doctor's surgery in the bus," she said.

"(The staff member) said I don't think that will be a problem.

"She comes back and she said, 'oh, I'm sorry, we no longer use the bus for going to the doctor's surgery. It's only used for outings'."

So Ellen pushed her mother in her wheelchair for 400m through the rain to get to the appointment.

It turned out that Madeleine had pneumonia.

"I was a blabbering mess, and I was nearly running so she didn't get wet… and when I got in to see Dr Reedy, and he took mum's blood pressure, it was 200/120 and her temperature was 38.2 degrees," Ellen said.

"As soon as he did that, he rang the ambulance. She was dehydrated, her blood pressure was through the roof, plus she had a UTI - she was in hospital for 10 days."

Madeleine was moved to a new nursing home on July 27, 2017, after leaving hospital.

"She's so much happier there," Ellen said.


Millmerran Centenary Retirement Village board president John Rogers has not been gun-shy when it comes to the issues Yallambee has faced over the last 15 months.

He has dedicated a lot of ink to defending the facility and its staff in the Millmerran & District News, a monthly newsletter published by the Millmerran Commerce and Progress Inc.

In the February 2018 newsletter, Mr Rogers wrote: "Last month we hosted a significant meeting with the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner (ACCC). I have always tried to be honest with the Millmerran community who own Yallambee and I feel I owe it to you to be as upfront as possible within the bounds of confidentiality requirements. The ACCC received a large number of complaints regarding our facility during 2017. Some of these were as a result of human error and within accepted statistics for the industry. Our continuous improvement program had already identified many of the practices that resulted in these errors and most were being addressed by our Clinical Care Manager Maxine Noone and by our own staff."

"Unfortunately there were also a considerable number of complaints that have been proven to be vengeful and retaliatory and we are well aware of the sources of these complaints. The ACCC meeting looked at both sources and we came away from the meeting with a new understanding of our respective roles and obligations. We also believe the ACCC are now more aware of the individuals who threaten us and the difficult community dynamics we face and this will be taken into consideration in future instances."

In May, when news came through that a number of allegations against a staff member had been dismissed due to insufficient evidence, and a number of ACCC investigations had finalised, Mr Rogers again took up his pen.

Nev Madsen

"I'm so chuffed over our recent successes I think I'll throw up a giant 'middle finger' to those who don't like Yallambee or my bad jokes," he wrote in the May newsletter, adding: "Two of our elderly residents were having breakfast when one said to the other 'Ethel you have a suppository in your ear'. Ethel replied 'Oh hell I think I know where my hearing aid is'."

When contacted by The Chronicle to comment on this story, the board stated the facility had cooperated with all investigations by regulatory authorities.

When asked how many regulatory investigations into the facility or its staff remained ongoing, the board stated: "It would not be appropriate to comment on the details of any current investigation. However, the board remains confident these complaints will also be dismissed."

Yallambee's lawyer said that as of June 29, another two complaints made to the ACCC by a former staff member and an anonymous source "concerning the care received by certain residents at the facility" had been investigated and dismissed.

Earlier this month, Mr Rogers revealed the board was now considering selling the nursing home, among other options.

"You'd be blind and deaf Freddie if you've missed the dramas we've had for the last couple of years. Despite the best efforts of some, we have beaten off all attacks and it is business as usual," Mr Rogers wrote.

"Aged care is an easy target, there are malcontents and media wolves waiting to pounce at every turn. As a board of management we are strenuously pursuing the recruitment of key operations personnel to better tackle high risk areas.

"But the reality is that Yallambee Aged Care is a multi-million dollar business with 60 staff and soon to be 60 residents operating in a high risk, high scrutiny environment. The community board model, whilst once a mainstay, is a risk and a new direction may well be needed if Yallambee is to survive.

Aged care is an easy target, there are malcontents and media wolves waiting to pounce at every turn

"The Board of Management of Millmerran Centenary Retirement Village Inc has re-activated investigations into the transitioning of the facility to an alternative form of ownership or governance.

"The results of these investigations will be put to the financial members of MCRV Inc at the annual general meeting in September.

"In the absence of a significant community input into the future of MCRV, the Board of Management will assume authority to proceed with a recommendation for consideration by financial members.

"Having said that, we will be greatly relieved to see an overwhelming response to this SOS. The opportunity is there, the choice is there. The rest is up to the "Millmerran Community"."