WAITING times for patients with urgent conditions have fallen across nearly all the northern region’s emergency departments.
The latest performance report from the Bureau of Health Information shows that between July and September this year, the median waiting time (the time it took for half of patients to begin treatment) for those who presented at Tamworth hospital with imminently life threatening conditions – such as chest pain or severe burns – was seven minutes.
This was down from eight minutes in the same period last year.
At Narrabri, patients in this triage category had a slightly longer median wait of two minutes, up from one minute the same time last year.
But Moree more than halved its waiting time, from five minutes to two.
Gunnedah hospital recorded a drop in the median waiting time of seven minutes – from nine minutes to two – and at Armidale, the median time to start treatment fell from nine minutes in July to September 2011, to seven minutes this year.
Inverell recorded a reduction of three minutes between 2011 and 2012.
The waiting times were below the state median for this category of eight minutes.
The median wait for patients with potentially life-threatening conditions also fell at all hospitals, except Narrabri.
Narrabri recorded slightly longer waiting times across all categories.
Inverell had shorter waiting times for the more serious triage categories, but significantly longer median waits for patients with potentially serious and less urgent conditions.
Median waiting times were down across all triage categories at Tamworth and Gunnedah hospitals.
Statewide, all triage categories experienced a drop in waiting times from July to September last year. But fewer patients left the region’s emergency departments within the recommended time frame than the same period last year.
Sixty per cent of patients at Tamworth hospital left within four hours, compared to 62 per cent last year. The benchmark for NSW is 69 per cent.
Armidale, Gunnedah, Inverell, Moree and Narrabri hospitals also had fewer patients seen within four hours this year than last, but all exceeded the state target by at least 14 per cent.