ACT News

ACT emergency departments fail patient wait targets

ACT public hospitals' emergency departments have failed to meet targets for seeing patients on time, according to a new report released on Thursday.

According to ACT Health's annual report, just over 60 per cent of patients presenting to Canberra's emergency wards were seen on time in 2013-14, missing a national target of 70 per cent.

Emergency department presentations reached a four-year high in the past year, according to the report, as 125,890 ACT residents fronted up for treatment in 2013-14.

Since 2010, there have been more than 10,000 extra presentations to Canberra's emergency departments.

ACT Health badly missed their targets on "urgent" and "semi-urgent" presentations to emergency wards, with only 50 per cent of "urgent" patients being seen on time compared to a 75 per cent target.

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But they met or exceeded targets in other categories including non-urgent patients, 86 per cent of whom were seen within two hours, well above the target of 70 per cent.

The number of people who did not wait to be treated at emergency departments decreased in 2013-14, resulting in every category meeting their allocated target.

The number of surgeries in ACT hospitals increased over the past year, as did the number of patients waiting longer than was recommended for elective surgery.

There were 18,998 surgical operations performed in Canberra's hospitals over the past year, an increase of five per cent in four years.

Of those, 11,780 were elective surgeries, the highest number performed in four years.

The median waiting time for elective surgery in ACT hospitals has also decreased, down to 48 days in 2013-14 from a substantially larger 77 days in 2010-11.

Meanwhile, the number of additions to the waiting list for elective surgery continued to grow in the territory, as 13,848 people added their names to the list in the past year. This was slightly up on the previous year.

In addition, ACT Health found in 2013-14 a total of 736 Canberrans waited too long for elective surgery, a slight increase on the previous year but substantially down on a surge in 2011-12.

In total ACT Health spent $1.15 billion in the past year, $6 million above the budget estimates, but an increase of $9 million in revenue meant the service came in under budget.

The number of public hospital beds per head of population has remained the same for the past four years, at 2.6 per 1000 people, the same as the national average.

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