Over 6.5 million emergency department presentations were reported by public hospital emergency departments in 2011-12, an increase of 4.2% on average each year between 2007-08 and 2011-12.
Between 2010-11 and 2011-12, emergency department presentations increased in most states and territories, with large increases in Western Australia (11.8%) and in South Australia (11.2%) driven, in part, by an increase in the number of hospitals reporting emergency department activity.
In 2011-12, 50% of patients received treatment by a medical officer or nurse within 21 minutes of presenting to the emergency department and 90% of patients received treatment within 108 minutes of presentation.
From 2007-08 to 2011-12, the overall proportion of patients 'seen on time' in Principal referral and specialist women's and children's hospitals and Large hospitals increased from 69% to 72%.
For 2011-12, the overall proportion 'seen on time' varied across the states and territories, from 54% in the Northern Territory, to 76% in New South Wales and in South Australia. Almost 100% of resuscitation patients (those requiring treatment immediately) and 80% of emergency patients (requiring treatment within 10 minutes) were seen on time.
About 4.4% of emergency presentations to Principal referral and specialist women's and children's hospitals and Large hospitals were for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. About 67% of Indigenous Australians were seen on time, compared with 70% for other Australians.
The National Emergency Access Target (NEAT) aim is that, by 31 December 2015, 90% of emergency department visits will be completed in 4 hours or less. In 2011-12, almost two-thirds (64%) of emergency department visits were completed in 4 hours or less, and 90% of patients had left the emergency department within 8 hours and 30 minutes. Western Australia and Tasmania achieved the highest proportion of emergency department visits completed in 4 hours or less (79% and 66%, respectively).
About 28% of emergency department patients were admitted to hospital after their emergency department care. For these patients, 29% had completed their emergency department visit in 4 hours or less, and 90% were admitted within 14 hours and 30 minutes.