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Another small Victorian rural hospital will close its surgical service, the second to do so this week.
The Rochester and Elmore District Health Service, near Echuca in the state's north, told medical staff it would not reopen its operating theatre, which had been closed for the Christmas break and was due to reopen in February, The Age newspaper reported.
A spokesman for Health Minister Bronwyn Pike said the Rochester health service board had made a "brave decision" and would work with the state government to develop plans for the hospital including physiotherapy and podiatry services and an upgraded emergency department.
The Nationals Member for Rodney, Noel Maughan, is disappointed the Rochester and Elmore District Health Service has come under fire for closing surgical services.
Mr Maughan says the hospital was losing money doing surgery and the decision is in the best interests of the community.
He says the board will focus on retaining a first-class acute care hospital, upgrading accident and emergency facilities and developing a broader range of health services.
"The needs of the Rochester community itself is changing," he said.
"Most people, as I say, go to major regional hospitals for their surgery but many people are travelling outside of Rochester to get services such as chemotherapy, dialysis, physiotherapy, podiatry etc."