HOSPITALS in regional areas around the country are mostly performing better than the major metropolitan hospitals when it comes to waiting times in emergency departments.
The first report from the National Health Performance Authority, which monitors how Australia's hospitals are performing against national emergency access targets, was released on Friday.
Based on data from 134 Australia hospitals, from July 2011 to June 2012, the report revealed 63% of patients who turned up at emergence hospitals in major regional hospitals were treated within four hours.
But major metropolitan hospitals were the worst performing hospitals, with just over half of all patients treated within four hours of turning up in the ED.
For large hospitals in regional areas (defined as smaller than major regional hospitals), 78% of patients were treated within four hours, while 67% of patients in similar-sized metropolitan hospitals were treated in the same time.
Among all major hospitals, the percentage of patients leaving within four hours ranged from just 33% to 79%, while large hospitals ranged from 48% to 92% and medium hospitals ranged between 41% and 93%.
Large regional hospitals also out-performed large metropolitan hospitals, with between 61% and 92% leaving within four hours, while the metropolitan hospitals had a range of 48% to 83%.
However, the length of time within which 90% of patients left ED was shortest in medium hospitals and longest for large regional hospitals.
That waiting time ranged from five hours and 28 minutes to 27 hours and 59 minutes - but there is not national target set for this measure.
- Major metropolitan: more than 20,000 ED presentations and more than 20,000 acute cases.
- Major regional: more than 20,000 ED presentations and more than 16,000 acute cases.
- Large metropolitan: more than 20,000 ED presentations and more than 10,000 acute cases.
- Large regional: more than 20,000 ED presentations and more 8,000 acute cases.
- Medium (both regions): more than 20,000 ED presentations and between 5,000 and 10,000 acute cases.
SOURCE: National Health Performance Authority, 2011-12.