Emergency department care activity

Emergency department (ED) activity is measured by the number of presentations to the ED.

An ED presentation starts following the arrival of the patient to the ED and is the earliest time that a patient is registered or triaged by clinical staff.

This section presents information on the number of presentations to public hospital EDs reported between 2016–17 and 2020–21. ED presentations are also presented by:

  • State and territory
  • Triage category
  • Hospital Peer group

Impacts of COVID-19 on ED activity

ED activity in 2019–20 and 2020–21 was influenced by COVID-19 restrictions and the changes affecting health care provision commencing in February 2020.

A range of restrictions on travel, business, social interaction and border control were introduced to prevent and reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID‑19). In this period, there have also been a number of other changes that may have impacted on the provision of healthcare services, including emergency department care.

During 2020–21, some jurisdictions operated COVID-19 fever clinics within emergency departments. Comparatively large increases in ED activity observed between 2019–20 and 2020–21 in some jurisdictions may be driven, in part, by this additional activity.

Between 2018–19 and 2019–20:

  • the number of ED presentations decreased by 1.4%, compared to a 4.2% increase between 2017–18 and 2018–19.

Between 2019–20 and 2020–21:

  • the number of ED presentations increased by 6.9% compared to 2019–20.