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.