Pressure is being placed on the Grampians Health network, as the largest hospital in the health partnership, Ballarat Base Hospital, faces increasing emergency room demand.
In the past three weeks, Ballarat Base Hospital's emergency department has reported increased waiting times for patients, urging people with more minor illnesses and injuries to seek care elsewhere.
Grampians Health acting chief executive Ben Kelly said while the situation was centered on Ballarat all campuses across the Grampians Health network were facing similar staffing and care challenges.
Mr Kelly said the high levels of COVID and influenza in the community were not necessarily translating to high numbers of patients with these conditions in hospital, but were having an impact on staff absences and the ability to discharge patients back home or to other services that might provide care and rehabilitation, aged care or disability care.
"We are still facing similar challenges to what Ballarat does and are facing similar challenges in our urgent care centres in Stawell and Edenhope," he said.
"That is, how do you make sure you have the right resources available to be able to meet that need - that is the challenge at the moment."
Ballarat Base Hospital, as the largest hospital in the Grampians Health network, often functions as a steaming hospital for the health services other campuses in the Wimmera.
The hospital also provides outpatient services in the Wimmera, something which has been a focus since the inception of the combined Grampians Health Service
Despite the strain on the Ballarat Base Hospital, Mr Kelly said he was assured patients, if necessary, would continue to be forwarded onto the hospital from Horsham, Stawell and Edenhope.
We would like to see more patients closer to home. That is one of our strategic priorities, to improve the service at Stawell, Horsham and Edenhope from what it is at the moment.
"We will continue to work through those cases, and if someone needs to be transferred to Ballarat it is highly likely that they would be," he said.
"If they couldn't come to Ballarat then the worst-case scenario is that they would go to another hospital. But we are trying to minimise that.
"We would like to see more patients closer to home. That is one of our strategic priorities, to improve the service at Stawell, Horsham and Edenhope from what it is at the moment."
As a result of the increased demand on the emergency department on Monday, Ambulance Victoria reported ramping throughout the afternoon.
Victorian Ambulance Union secretary Danny Hill said "everywhere is struggling" with patients in regional centres facing difficulty booking in to see local GPs, aged care facilities struggling to retain skilled staff and more people calling triple-0 to send people in to hospital.
"Emergency departments and ambulances are meant to be there dealing with the sickest patients ... the worst illness and injury, but people are not getting service through primary care, aged care, disability care and that all spills over in to ambulance and the ED," Mr Hill said.
Anyone needing non-urgent medical care can call Nurse on Call - 1300 60 60 24; see a local GP or pharmacist, or visit an after-hours medical clinic.
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