AMBULANCE Victoria is set to adopt the RefCom referral service throughout regional Victoria.
The referral system, which has been in place in metropolitan Melbourne since 2003, will be expanded to Bendigo and five other regions by the end of next year.
The system will divert patients with non life- threatening medical problems to local doctors or services.
Ambulance Victoria manager of Communications and Referral Services Danny McGennisken said the RefCom system would be able to meet the specific needs of patients.
“This system is all about meeting personal clinical needs with a suitable service,” he said.
“People still get a very good service but it also means that when we do use alternatives to emergency ambulances it means emergency ambulances are then available for time critical events.”
Mr McGennisken said that in the 2010-11 financial year, more than 40,000 calls were handled via the RefCom system. On Wednesday, state opposition health spokesperson Wade Noonan said in 2010 the Labor government provided funding for RefCom to be expanded to regional and Victoria, but the Baillieu government had not done anything about it until now.
He said the Baillieu government had shelved the service without any explanation.
“The RefCom program was earmarked and funded in 2010 by the previous Labor government to extend across regional and rural Victoria,” Mr Noonan said.
“During a period of unprecedented growth in demand for regional ambulance services, I think country Victorians are entitled to ask where the money has gone.”