New report provides timely information on emergency department care & elective surgery waiting time

The latest national information on how long people wait for elective surgery and for emergency department care has been released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

‘This is the earliest this information has been made available, with timely provision of data by state and territory health authorities allowing this information to be released at a national level within 5 months of the collection period,’ said Ms Jenny Hargreaves, Head of the Institute’s Hospitals and Performance Group.

The report, Australian hospital statistics 2009–10: emergency department care and elective surgery waiting times, shows that emergency department presentations increased by an average of almost 5% per annum between 2005-06 and 2009-10, and by almost 4% between 2008-09 and 2009-10.

There were almost 6 million presentations to emergency departments in major public hospitals in 2009-10.

Of these, 100% of resuscitation patients received treatment immediately and 70% were seen on time for their triage or urgency category, the same as in 2008-09.

‘Treatment by a medical officer or nurse began within 23 minutes of presenting to the emergency department for 50% of people and within 115 minutes of presentation for 90% of people,’ Ms Hargreaves said.

The number of people receiving elective surgery in public hospitals increased by an average of 2.3% per year between 2005-06 and 2009-10, and by 2.4% between 2008-09 and 2009-10.

‘Almost 610,000 people were admitted to Australian public hospitals from waiting lists for elective surgery in 2009-10, with 50% of them waiting 36 days or less for public elective surgery,’ Ms Hargreaves said.

‘The increase in volume of elective surgery each year since 2005-06 has been accompanied by an increase in waiting times, with the median waiting time increasing from 32 days in 2005-06.

‘Over the same period, there has been a downward trend in the proportion of people who wait more than a year to be admitted for their surgery, dropping from 4.6% in 2005-06 to 3.6% in 2009-10.’


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