City emergency departments show big improvements, regionals remain steady
Australia’s major metropolitan public hospitals saw marked improvements in the percentage of patients departing emergency departments (ED) within four hours – a timeframe agreed by governments – a new National Health Performance Authority report shows.
The report found that in highest performing major metropolitan hospitals over 80% of patients departed ED within four hours in Oct–Dec 2013, up from 70% two years previously.
Improvements were also seen among the lowest performing major metropolitan hospitals, increasing from 35% to 51% of patients departing ED within four hours from Oct–Dec 2011 to Oct–Dec 2013. An impressive improvement in the face of an increase of almost 57,000 patient presentations at major metropolitan hospitals over this period.
Eighteen major metropolitan hospitals reported improvements of 10 or more percentage points from Jan–Dec 2012 to Jan–Dec 2013. The biggest single improvement over this one year period was at Princess Alexandra Hospital (Qld), which improved from 45% to 65% of patients departing ED within four hours.
Overall improvements across major regional hospitals were not as marked. Five major regional hospitals reported improvements of 10 or more percentage points from Jan–Dec 2012 to Jan–Dec 2013. The biggest single improvement over this one year period was at Manning Hospital (NSW), which improved from 64% to 78% of patients departing ED within four hours.
Each state and territory has its own annual target for the percentage of patients leaving ED within four hours, leading up to the 2015 National Emergency Access Target (NEAT) of 90% agreed by the Council of Australian Governments.
The report shows results for 112 major and large public hospitals, representing three-quarters of the 7 million presentations across Australia. These are allocated into four peer groups based on their size and location: major metropolitan, major regional, large metropolitan and large regional.
From Jan–Dec 2012 to Jan–Dec 2013 the report revealed:
- Four major metropolitan hospitals reported improvement of 15 or more percentage points – Princess Alexandra (Qld), Royal Brisbane and Women’s (Qld), Dandenong (Vic), Hornsby (NSW)
- Five major regional hospitals reported improvement of 10 or more percentage points – Manning Hospital (NSW), Coffs Harbour (NSW), Toowoomba (Qld), Nambour (Qld), Townsville (Qld)
- No hospital met the 2015 NEAT target of 90% in 2013. Although several are close, Mount Isa (Qld) reported 89% and Albany (WA) and Kalgoorlie (WA) reported 88%.
Performance Authority CEO Dr Diane Watson said that while there had been considerable improvement for some peer groups and hospitals, today’s update presents an opportunity for hospitals to learn from their peers.
“Hospitals are inspired through this information to make improvements and learn from others who are improving,” Dr Watson said.
Nearly half (44%) of all ED presentations in 2013 were in major metropolitan hospitals, with almost one-fifth (16%) in major regional hospitals.
NEAT results for an additional 174 hospitals and further information, including data on waiting times for elective surgery for specific clinical conditions such as hip and knee replacements, neurosurgery, heart bypass procedures and ear, nose and throat surgery, can be found at www.myhospitals.gov.au.