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Emergency department waiting times rise

Waiting times in Canberra’s public hospital emergency departments worsened in the year to September.

The proportion of patients seen on-time in emergency department fell from 54 per cent in 2011-12 to 50 per cent in 2012-13, according to figures published in the ACT Public Health Services Quarterly Performance Report.

The result was well below the target of 70 per cent.

Chief Minister and Health Minister Katy Gallagher said the number of patients attending hospital emergency departments had risen by 8.2 per cent over four years.

“Our EDs are under pressure, including because of the steady increase in numbers of people waiting treatment. Improving ED waiting time is a priority for the government,’’ Ms Gallagher said.

Ms Gallagher said the 2012-13 budget had included $12.6 million to boost services and treatment spaces in the Canberra Hospital emergency department.

The Canberra Hospital emergency department has endured several difficult months since it was revealed last year the emergency department performance targets had been tampered with.

The report showed continuing improvement in elective surgery results.

The number of patients experiencing clinically inappropriate “long waits’’ for elective surgery fell from 1166 in 2011-12 to 819 at the end of September.