HUNDRED are expected to attend a protest tonight over Colac hospital's plan to close it emergency department night service.From next week Colac Area Health will close its accident and emergency service from 10pm to 7am because of health funding cuts.
The announcement has angered residents and the public meeting, to be chaired by Colac Otway Shire Mayor and former midwife Lyn Russell, was organised to hear community concerns.
It comes amid reports CAH recorded a $1.7 million deficit last year and would make fewer beds available in an effort to get back in the black.
State member for Polwarth Terry Mulder and federal member for Corangamite Darren Cheeseman are set to attend the meeting, both blaming their political opponents for the budget cuts.
"I know the community is very keen to get to the bottom of the hospital finances," Labor's Mr Cheeseman said.
"The Colac Area Health budget is unsustainable and the $616 million in State Government cuts over the last couple of financial years have very much undermined the financial security of the hospital."
But Victorian Coalition member Mr Mulder said patients had become the casualties of the $107 million reduction in federal health funding announced at the end of last year, hitting health services around the state.
"I am endeavouring to ensure that Colac and district residents retain their after-hours emergency service and am involved in ongoing discussions with Health Minister David Davis," Mr Mulder said.
CAH board members and representatives from Ambulance Victoria will also attend the meeting.
The public meeting will be held at Colac Otways Performing Arts and Cultural Centre tonight at 7pm.