Australia’s largest providers of ophthalmic care, has announced a number of of important changes at the publicly listed company.
Those changes include a new managing director and CEO, a new Chief Financial Officer (CFO), changes to remuneration packages and the resignation and termination of several doctor partners.
On its website, VGH describes itself as “one of Australia’s largest providers of ophthalmic care along the eastern seaboard comprising dedicated ophthalmic consulting facilities, day surgeries, refractive surgery and laser centres”.
On 4 May, VGH issued a statement to the ASX announcing Mr. Geoff Thompson had replaced Mr. Craig Stamp as the company’s CEO. Mr Thompson was previously VGH’s CFO/COO. Ms. Vanessa Huxley, the Company’s Group Financial Controller was appointed as CFO.
The announcement stated in part: “Geoff (Thompson) has extensive experience in healthcare and other corporate sectors having held senior executive roles at MIA, Lifehealthcare, AMP, CSR and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Geoff’s strong financial discipline and extensive operational experience within healthcare, especially working with Specialist Doctors, make him an ideal CEO for the next phase of the Company’s development, particularly with the focus on business optimisation and costs”.
Three weeks later, VHG announced that the new CEO, Geoff Thompson, had also been appointed VHG’s managing director and that Ms. Huxley had taken his place as company secretary as well as her duties as CFO.
Mr. Thompson told mivision that Mr. Stamp resigned purely for personal reasons, adding: “We are fortunate that the Board instituted an effective succession plan with Craig remaining as part of the management team for three months before transitioning to his non-executive position on the Board. Craig’s knowledge and experience as both an optometrist by training and as a seasoned business leader is invaluable to the business and he remains committed to Vision Group,”
Just two days later, on 26 May, VHG was forced to issue an ASX statement declaring that it had terminated its arrangement with Dr. Steve Steyn, who practiced at the company’s Gladstone, Queensland office.
“Following Dr. Steyn’s application for assessment for recognition as an overseas trained specialist in ophthalmology, The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists informed the Australian Medical Council that it considers that Dr Steyn is not comparable to an Australian trained ophthalmologist and that it would not continue to support registration for Dr. Steyn’s Area of Need position. The Company will take steps to ensure patients in the Gladstone region are not unnecessarily inconvenienced by the ending of its arrangement with Dr. Steyn”.
Two days after that statement, VGH then issued another statement to the ASX, announcing the resignation of two of its Melbourne-based doctor partners, Dr. Julian Sack and Dr. Heather Mack. \
Mr. Thompson told mivision: “While the departures are disappointing, the strength of Vision Group comes from the fact that the vast majority of our doctors are strongly committed. That commitment and strength will allow the company to move forward in a positive manner. I am confident other doctors will be attracted to join Vision Group as the company progresses into the future.
“As with many ophthalmology group practices, a small minority of Doctors, for a variety of reasons, will choose not to be a part of that group practice moving forward. In this regard, Vision Group is no different, but I am pleased to say that the vast majority of our doctors and staff are committed to the future of the company”.
He said that VHG had developed a robust recruitment process and its Doctor Partners were actively engaged in identifying and recruiting potential new doctors.
“We also have a number of ophthalmologists who have already approached us about joining the group. We are well positioned to engage with potential new doctors and continue to be viewed as a viable and attractive option within the ophthalmic community,” said Mr. Thompson.
Mr. Thompson said looking forward, VHG’s fundamentals remain sound and together with its doctors, it has commenced a program of business optimisation and efficiency improvement.
“We have in place leadership that intimately involves our doctors in all aspects of the business, including the development of special interest groups to coordinate efforts on clinical activities, research, information sharing, marketing and performance,” said Mr Thompson.
“Vision Group has a clear understanding of what is required to succeed. We are getting back to the fundaments of good business and as such, our doctors are becoming more and more engaged in all aspects of the business.”