Vision Eye Institute closes, sues Kitchen

VISION Eye Institute will close its Rockhampton practice after the departure of its only eye surgeon Dr David Kitchen following a bitter contractual dispute.

The business made a statement on Monday that the Rockhampton site would be shut down after interim arrangements were put in place for the short-term care of patients.

The company has started a legal action against Dr Kitchen, who has since begun a new practice in Rockhampton.

Last month The Morning Bulletin reported Dr Kitchen, one of only three eye surgeons in the city, found himself banned from the institute's surgery in Kirkellan Street after resigning from Vision - where he was the CQ director - in a dispute over pay and conditions.

On Monday the Vision Group, the largest provider of ophthalmic surgery in Australia, held its annual general meeting in Melbourne.

In his address to the meeting the group's chairman, Shane Tanner, said the Rockhampton site's revenue and earnings were now an issue due to the early departure of Dr Kitchen.

“This doctor practised predominantly in Rockhampton which was a sole doctor location,” Mr Tanner said.

“The Rockhampton issues are short term and the growth strategy moving forward will focus more on multi-doctor facilities.”

He said the company had lodged a claim for damages with the Supreme Court at Brisbane against Dr Kitchen.

Claims in this court are for more than $250,000.

Late Monday a statement was made by the company about the Rockhampton situation.

“Vision Group regretfully advises that due to the previous departure of Dr Kitchen and obvious damage this has caused, combined with the inability to find a replacement, a decision has been made to close the practice,” it said.

“Patients have always been the main focus and interim care will be provided for the short term.”

The statement said the practice wouldn't close immediately and alternative arrangements would be made for patients.

Dr Kitchen yesterday said he was aware of the closure.

“My plan is to continue to service the needs of Rockhampton,” Dr Kitchen said.

“I would like to thank the community, my patients, the hospitals and colleagues for their support.”

He did not comment about the legal proceedings as the matter is before the courts.

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