The state government hasn't scaled back services at Portland District Health, says Victoria's premier.
Daniel Andrews spoke in parliament this week about the health service, which is grappling with the departure of ophthalmologist Robert Harvey and a pause on midwifery.
He said the government had not scaled back services at Portland.
"Quite the opposite," Mr Andrews said.
"That is completely and utterly wrong".
It came as South West Coast MP Roma Britnell asked the premier to respond to a Portland patient who was due for major surgery but recently downgraded because of a lack of services.
She said Jo required an urgent hysterectomy and in January was told the category one surgery needed to be done within three weeks.
"Due to the government scaling back services at the Portland hospital, she was sent to Warrnambool where her surgery remained urgent," Ms Britnell said.
"But on May 26 she was told the closest appointment was now 12 months away."
Ms Britnell said Jo suffered from a numb and aching left leg due to the pressure of the tumours, heavy periods and constant severe stomach pain.
"For Jo, her condition is having a severe physical and psychological impact. What does the premier say to Jo who, due to the scaling back of services at Portland, is now in a longer queue and has no idea when she will have the vital surgery which will change her life?" she said.
Mr Andrews said no one wanted to see Jo, or any Victorian, unable to access the surgery they needed.
"No one wants that, and that is why it is so challenging and regrettable that for the best of reasons we, the government, had to follow advice and hospitals had to make very difficult decisions to pause elective surgery because of this virus at various points throughout the last two-and-a-half years," he said.
Mr Andrews said any suggestion that PDH didn't have more money than ever before was wrong.
He said a community board making individual decisions about services based on "safety, quality, demand in their local community and workforce availability in their local community" was "the governance model we have in Victoria working as it should".
"Not directed by the 'big government' down in Melbourne but instead a hospital for locals run by locals and, might I say, one of the biggest employers in that local community," Mr Andrews said.
PDH has repeatedly said staffing shortages were putting pressure on the service's ability to deliver care.
On Wednesday, The Standard asked the premier what support, if any, was being provided to PDH.
A spokesman said the state government had boosted PDH funding by more than 20 per cent in the last financial year.
He said the health service was also being supported to implement the recommendations of the Hillis Review - focusing on establishing sustainable local workforce models.
In 2019 Associate Professor David Hillis reviewed the medical workforce model at PDH.
The report, Towards a sustainable medical healthcare workforce in Portland, was released to the community after months of lobbying.
Information obtained from the state government showed surgery categories are assigned based on an assessment from the treating clinician.
In some cases the triage category - and urgency level - is revised either by the treating hospital or if the patient's condition changes.
The Department of Health is looking into Jo's case.
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