In Parliament on Wednesday evening, Ms Britnell called on the Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos to review the classification of Portland District Health’s urgent care centre to determine if it should be reclassified as an emergency department.
“My office has been contacted by a number of constituents who have presented at the urgent care centre in Portland, but because their condition required care that was beyond the clinical capabilities of the centre, as prescribed by its classification, they had to be transferred onto other hospitals,” Ms Britnell said.
“They were transported via road or air ambulance and later received large bills for their ambulance transport costs – some up to $8000 if being transferred by air.
“This is because under the current model, they couldn’t not be admitted to Portland District Health via urgent care, so their transport is not considered an “inter-hospital” transfer and the ambulance bill, if they don’t have a membership or private health cover, is up to them to pay.”
Ms Britnell said the classification issue was putting people in the Portland region at a disadvantage to other rural and regional Victorians.
She said more than 8000 patients are cared for annually at the urgent care centre, a number comparable to the Warrnambool Base Hospital and more than Western District Health in Hamilton which are both classified as emergency departments.
“It seems unreasonable that a Hospital with such high levels of patient numbers and servicing a large population base has no emergency department,” she said.
“I’m concerned this is putting people who need emergency treatment in the Portland region at a disadvantage and I am asking the minister to review this classification.”