No rewards for hospital waiting times

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ACT hospitals performed worse than any other state or territory in 2012, in terms of lengthy visits to emergency departments and waiting times for elective surgery.

According to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 56.7 per cent of trips to the territory’s emergency departments were completed in under four hours.

The proportion of emergency visits that take under four hours is the standard used to set targets for continual improvement under the National Partnership Agreement on Improving Public Hospital Services.

Under the agreement, the ACT’s continual improvement target for last year was 64 per cent. Failing to meet it may mean the territory misses out on $800,000 worth of “reward funding” from the Commonwealth.

Nationwide, 65.5 per cent of patients were in and out of emergency in less than four hours, with Western Australia the only state or territory to meet its 2012 target.

In terms of elective surgery, the ACT health system did meet its target for the number of patients operated on within the clinically recommended time. The commitment under the national agreement was to meet that target in at least two out of three “clinical urgency” categories, for procedures that should be done within 30, 90 and 365 days respectively.

ACT hospitals also managed to fulfill a commitment to provide treatment or referral during 2012 to the top 10 per cent of overdue patients in each urgency category, who were still waiting at the end of 2011.

But the median waiting time for elective surgery in the ACT was also the longest, at 55 days.

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