A BOOST of half a million dollars will help Warrnambool Base Hospital's emergency department respond to patients affected by alcohol and drugs.
Premier and South West Coast MP Denis Napthine on Saturday announced the government funding, which he said would ensure the hospital had the required resources to deal with the growing number of patients on ice.
"Drug and alcohol-affected patients can be challenging for emergency departments, in particular patients who are under the influence of new and emerging drugs such as ice," Dr Napthine said.
The local emergency department can decide to introduce the best resources for the Warrnambool community, which could include hiring a drug and alcohol specialist or additional training for current staff, he said.
The funding announcement followed the $5.7 million, 5.4 per cent increase to the 2015-15 South West Healthcare budget announced earlier this month, and will complement new laws introduced into parliament this year to protect doctors, nurses and emergency personnel.
"In June, the government introduced legislation that increased the sentence for seriously assaulting an emergency department doctor or nurse to a minimum of six months," Dr Napthine said.
"These reforms were also expanded this week to create a minimum six month sentence for serious assaults against staff anywhere in a hospital.
"Since coming to government, the Coalition has been proud to deliver a $26.7 million, 31.4 per cent boost to the South West Healthcare Budget."
A community action program has been planned to take place in Warrnambool later this year, aiming to tackle the ice epidemic head-on .
The program has launched in the Geelong region and in Warrnambool will bring key stakeholders, including Victoria Police, the departments of justice and health and other state government organisations, together with community leaders for a summit.