Closure means longer wait for ambulances

Plans to close Colac Hospital’s overnight urgent care department will mean a longer wait for ambulances.

COLAC and district residents face longer waits for ambulances when Colac’s hospital closes its overnight urgent care service.

Ambulance Victoria’s Barwon south-west regional manager Mick Cameron said the closure of Colac Area Health’s urgent care service, between 10pm and 7am, on February 1 would mean less coverage for the area.

“The planned overnight closure of the Colac urgent care centre means that ambulances will have to travel much further to transport patients to a hospital,” Mr Cameron said.

“There will be up to a three-hour turnaround time for paramedics in most cases when we transport patients to Geelong,” he said.

“There will be less coverage for the Colac community during these periods and our ability to respond in a timely fashion to Colac and surrounding communities will most certainly suffer as a result.”

Mr Cameron said Ambulance Victoria would continue to work with CAH, the Department of Health and other health services to minimise the impact of the closure.

“We will use the information we have to move ambulances around to try to get the best coverage and response for our patients,” he said.

“We have recently increased our capability to refer patients who call triple zero but don’t need an ambulance to alternative community health services and we’re hopeful that this will assist in reducing unnecessary ambulance transports to emergency departments.”

Colac Area Health chief executive officer Geoff Iles told the Colac Herald last week that the hospital’s board had to compensate for a $255,000-a-year Federal Government funding cut to its budget for each of the next four years.

Meanwhile, a Colac personal injury expert believes the closure could have “significant legal implications”.

“The inability to provide appropriate medical treatment in emergency circumstances means that inexpert or inappropriate treatment could be given and potential legal liability imposed on those who attempt to help a person in need,” Maddens Lawyers personal injury principal Gary Foster said.

“The community needs to be protected and is entitled to a properly-functioning emergency department,” Mr Foster said.

“It’s not good enough that people in an emergency situation have to face a trip to Geelong for proper treatment,” he said.

8 Responses to “Closure means longer wait for ambulances”

  1. Juggy

    Its disgraceful what the Goverment has done. If any of my family should suffer from this I will be in touch with them politely. But, if any should die as a result, It will be a personal visit!!!

  2. state watcher

    the state government have cut the ambulance service as well.

  3. jo

    so…we lose our emergency department overnight, someone has a heart attack and can’t receive emergency treatment because the ambulance is in Geelong. Family doesn’t have the option of driving the victim themselves because there is no where to take them.
    But this won’t affect after hours maternity services.
    So what happens if someone rings the maternity bell with a relative in the car in full cardiac arrest? Will they be turned away? Every second counts.

  4. Chad

    I have just had a read of this article after hearing todays articles out of the paper today.
    The Barwon Health CEO has made a blog post on this issue of funding cuts and that boards approach looks a lot better.
    http://bhceo.org.au/?p=1122 I know it goes on about things like organisational strategies but I think having well documented plans that can be easily followed is needed for preventing these kinds of issues from having an impact, or at least as little impact on people as possible.

  5. simon

    hmmmm how much are those 2 story appartments costing the hospital to house doctors. i would rather be doctors short then emergency closed. housing doctors wont keep them here anyway

  6. Laura

    It’s hard to believe that CAH didn’t see this backlash coming. What other cost cutting alternatives were there? Will we ever know? Is this really the ‘best’ they could do? The best for whom? Certainly not for the community.

  7. Bill

    How could Colac hospital Board fail to see this real cost to the community ?
    Colac Herald: please publish the facts, the figures. At present this stinks of politics, badly. Let the community see the real figures, the budget and the funding figures.

    255K seems incredibly cheap for such an important service. Is there more to this than is being reported? Wasn’t the hospital already running over budget?

    Emergency services are important for **EMERGENCIES**. Just because they don’t happen every day, every hour doesn’t make them any less important. Would Iles advocate selling off (or not doing scheduled replacements for) district fire trucks because they don’t get used every day? Each one of them is worth about $250K. But when the proverbial hits the fan we need them. Cutting emergency services based on daily usage rather than overall importance is ignorant: which leads us back to how could anyone cut emergency hospital hours without taking into account the cost it has on ambulance services ??????