Claims Geelong residents come to BHS for treatment to be investigated

REPORTS that patients are travelling from Geelong to Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital for treatment in the emergency department will be investigated.

A newspaper report yesterday indicated people were travelling to Ballarat for treatment because the Geelong Hospital was too full.

The Geelong Advertiser yesterday reported some people were choosing to travel more than an hour for treatment, due to the city’s public hospital emergency department becoming too busy to cope with the demand.

It said some patients were often travelling to either Ballarat or Werribee, choosing to bypass Geelong Hospital.

However, BHS chief executive officer Andrew Rowe said he was not aware of any notable increases in people travelling long distances to receive care at Ballarat Base Hospital, but said it was something that would be investigated.

“BHS will be examining data to determine if there is a trend of increasing patient numbers travelling from outside our traditional catchment population,” Mr Rowe said.

“(We) have not noticed an appreciable increase in numbers of patients travelling from Geelong.”

With a petition calling for an additional hospital in Geelong’s northern suburbs expected to be tabled in state parliament in the coming weeks, Mr Rowe said it was not a good idea for people to travel from areas such as Geelong to come to Ballarat Base Hospital.

He said the emergency department was busy enough without an influx of people coming from other cities using the hospital.

The hospital chief also said it could be detrimental for people’s health to travel such distances if they required hospital care.

“Travelling significant distances with a sick patient is not a practice that would be encouraged by BHS, as the patient’s wellbeing could be compromised if there is a deterioration in condition,” Mr Rowe said.

“Although BHS has one of the best performing emergency departments in the state, delays can be experienced during periods of high demand.”

patrick.nolan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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