WEST Wimmera Health Service has closed 15 of its acute beds and services and employment are at risk because of Federal Government funding cuts.
The government has cut about $107 million in health funding from Victoria because of a population data error.
West Wimmera Health Service lost $175,000 in the cuts.
Chief executive John Smith said the service closed beds at Nhill and Rainbow, despite being particularly busy this month.
Nhill Hospital also closed its theatre.
Mr Smith said there were 56 acute beds and 127 aged care beds across the health service.
He said the service would consider its options at the end of the month.
"I think if this escalates we might need to close for a longer term and that will affect employment," he said.
"It's extremely difficult, particularly when you're halfway through a financial year and then you find all of a sudden you're $175,000 worse off.
"Money doesn't grow on trees. For us, the ability to be able to provide our services becomes jeopardised. When you look at this, it doesn't just affect West Wimmera Health Service it affects everyone in the state."
Mr Smith said he wanted to establish the validity of the population data error.
He said he was unhappy with the Federal Government's actions.
"You can't get any Commonwealth politicians to come here," he said.
"I have not seen a federal pollie in this part of the world in - I can't remember the last time.
"I'm going to contact our local member John Forrest and work with him in an endeavour to have this matter rationally and reasonably dealt with."
Mr Smith said the area's population size did not warrant the cuts.
He said cutting services to the ageing population would add a burden to other hospitals.
"If we go on and spend money and run up a huge deficit it's against our principles," he said.
"It's most disturbing. It's a very difficult and challenging time."
“We need to remember what we’re here for – to treat people with high quality care.
“For that we need support from all political persuasions.”
Wimmera Health Care Group chief executive Chris Scott said the health group would lose $23,000 a fortnight until the next financial year.
He said the $595,000 cutback would mean longer waiting lists for elective surgery.
Access to visiting specialists would also be affected, despite a need for the service.
Mr Scott said closing beds and cutting staff was also a possibility.
“They’re not off our lists,” he said.
“It is quite possible we will need to cut beds and take a critical look at our staffing numbers.”
Mr Scott said he was surprised at a lack of response from the community.
“People need to take interest in what’s happening and the long-term effects it’s having on rural Victoria,” he said.
“We have a health service here that really needs support and it should be supported.”
Mr Scott said emergency services would not be affected.
Rural Northwest Health chief executive Catherine Morley said the health service would cope with its $115,000 cut.
But she said it would affect equipment upgrades.
“We have to run our business well,” she said.
“We’ll be okay, as long as nothing else comes and hits us in the stomach.”
The State Government has launched a Competitive Elective Surgery Funding Initiative in response to the cuts.
Health Minister David Davis said the $44-million initiative allowed hospitals to apply for grants to help public patients access elective surgery.