Queensland falls short in emergency benchmarks

EMERGENCY department waiting times improved across Queensland, but there's still work to be done to meet national targets.

The 2014 AMA Public Hospital Report Card was released yesterday, analysing the performance of Australia's public hospitals.

The report card is a state-by-state comparison and does not look at individual hospitals or health services.

It examines public hospital capacity; emergency department waiting and treatment times; and elective surgery waiting and treatment times.

In 2012-13, there was an improvement in emergency waiting times in Queensland for urgent patients.

In 2002-03, 55% of urgent patients were seen within 30 minutes, the recommended time. This increased to 68% in 2012-13.

However, Queensland hospitals did not meet the national emergency access target in 2012, did not see an improvement in elective surgery waiting times for 2012-13, and did not meet the national elective surgery target for 2012.

AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said the group was disappointed there had been a "marginal improvement" in public hospital performance nation-wide, against the performance benchmarks for emergency care and elective surgery set by all governments.

"In 2012-13, only 68% of emergency department patients classified as urgent were seen within the recommended 30 minutes, compared with the nationally agreed target of 80%," he said.

"Only 67% of all emergency department visits were completed in four hours or less, well short of the 90% target to be achieved by the end of 2015."

Dr Hambleton said an estimated 79% of elective surgery category two patients were admitted within the clinically recommended time, "also well short of the target of 100% to be achieved by 2016".

He said it was also important to note the actual amount of time patients waited for elective surgery was "much longer" than the publicly reported data.

"The time patients wait from when they are referred by their general practitioner to a specialist for assessment is not counted," he said.

"It is only after patients have seen the specialist that they are added to the official waiting list."

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