Emergency departments (EDs) are an essential component of Australia’s health care system. Many of Australia’s public hospitals have purpose-built EDs, staffed 24 hours a day, providing care for patients who require urgent medical, surgical or other attention.
Over time, ED activity has grown faster than population growth both in terms of the number of presentations to EDs and the amount of hours each person spends in ED. This growth has been concentrated within the working age populations, which suggests a growing demand for ED services that does not appear to be driven by factors such as population ageing.
Over the last five years, the performance of EDs in terms of measures of waiting times has declined.
Explore more details on ED care via the links at the bottom of the page.
Emergency department care
All data in these visualisations are available for download in the Data & downloads section of the MyHospitals website.
Emergency department care bookmark 1
There were 8.8 million emergency department presentations in 2021–22. Young children aged 0–4 years and people aged over 65 had the highest rates of presentations to emergency departments.
Emergency department care bookmark 2
67% of patients were seen on time overall in 2021–22.
Emergency department care bookmark 3
61% of presentations were completed within 4 hours in 2021–22.
71% of patients were seen on time overall in 2020–21.
67% of presentations were completed within 4 hours in 2020–21.
In 2021–22, there were 8.79 million presentations to EDs in public hospitals – a rate of 339 presentations per 1,000 population. This was a very similar level of ED activity to that seen in 2020–21 (8.81 million ED presentations – 339 presentations per 1,000 population).
In prior years:
Over time, the national trends has been for people to wait longer in the ED before being seen by a health professional. In 2021–22:
There has been an increase in the overall amount of time that patients tend to spend in EDs. In 2021–22:
The latest data on ED care is available for download below.
More information about the impact of COVID-19 on emergency department activity are available in the Emergency department care activity area of the MyHospitals site.
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) (2022) National, state and territory population, ABS website, accessed 13 October 2022.
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