Industry leaders have thrown support behind medical staff concerned for the future of Portland's hospital.
A petition by Portland District Health doctors signed by more than 1300 people has raised concerns around staffing, and industrial operators in high-risk settings want to see the service stay.
The city is home to a diverse heavy industry base, primarily manufacturing, production and transport.
Port of Portland chief executive Greg Tremewen, a former member of the hospital board, said the hospital was crucial for the city.
"Hopefully we don't get to use it because it means someone's been injured," Mr Tremewen said.
"Being in such a remote location such as Portland is an issue.
"If there is a serious work injury not just in the port but at Keppel Prince or Portland Aluminium - or anywhere else for that matter - it's important to have that facility there."
Keppel Prince Engineering executive director Steve Garner was also on the hospital board at a time it comprised entirely of locals and is now the chair of the Committee for Portland.
He's concerned that 90 per cent of the current members selected by Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley are from out of town, and has questions about staffing decisions.
"I don't accept that we should be paying a lot more for locums if there are permanent people around to fill those roles," Mr Garner said. "That to me is a crazy decision.
"If it is true there are medical staff available to come to Portland, if it's true the board has told management not to employ anybody, that begs further questioning."
Mr Garner oversees 300 employees while a further 600 work for the Aluminum Smelter.
"Many years ago we worked hard to get hospital with emergency department that could cater for an industrial accident," he said. "We really wanted a hospital that provided a broad range of services.
"We need to have a stable workforce to keep businesses operating and if we don't have medical services to back that up families will eventually leave the area.
"Portland is a unique city; if you look around Victoria there isn't another Portland that has heavy industry like we have yet we are getting second or third rate treatment and potentially being hamstrung."
An amalgamation with Warrnambool, Mt Gambier or Hamilton would be a high cost for businesses like Keppel Prince, Mr Garner said.
"Statewide how many times do we hear that ambulances are run off their feet and can't make it to emergencies.
"Do we want to have to rely on them?
"We've got big industries that really rely on the backup of first class medical providers for not only our workers but families and children."
Ophthalmologist Dr Robert Harvey says repeated requests to meet with the board have been denied.
"From April Portland will have one permanent anesthetist and the other will be on three months leave," he said. "More expensive locums will be required to run two operating theatres and all obstetrics and emergencies 24/7.
"Management would like another permanent anesthetist but this is blocked.
"The board tell us it is hard to recruit into rural Victoria. The truth is it is impossible to hire without opening a position and advertising the post.
"We need everyone in Glenelg Shire to canvas support for PDH."
PDH board chair Peter Matthews declined to respond to The Standard for comment.
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