WAITING times at Tamworth hospital’s emergency department have improved and the hospital is moving closer to meeting targets.
The latest hospital performance report for the October to December 2012 quarter reveals the time it took for 95 per cent of people to be seen was either equal to, or had fallen from, both the previous quarter and the same quarter of the previous year across all reported triage categories.
This was despite a slight growth in the number of attendances, from 9803 to 9977.
The most dramatic decline was experienced for patients with non-urgent conditions, most of whom were seen within 161 minutes – nearly an hour less than the July to September quarter.
But waiting times at the hospital exceeded the averages of its peer group of major hospitals, with the exception of the urgent triage category.
The hospital came closer to meeting the National Emergency Access Target, which stipulated that for hospitals in NSW in 2012, 69 per cent of patients should have left the emergency department within four hours.
Last quarter the hospital saw 67 per cent of patients leave within the designated period, up from 60 per cent in the previous quarter and 64 per cent in the same time the previous year.
A greater proportion of patients who arrived by ambulance were transferred to the care of emergency department staff within the recommended time of 30 minutes.
But at 77 per cent, the hospital did not meet the target of 90 per cent of patients transferred within 30 minutes.
Most other emergency departments across the region also fared relatively well when it came to waiting times.
Armidale hospital experienced a general improvement in waiting times from both the previous quarter and previous year.
The hospital has consistently exceeded the targeted proportion of patients leaving emergency within four hours, but has experienced an increase in this latest quarter.
A larger percentage of patients were also transferred off ambulance stretchers within the recommended timeframe.
Waiting times at Gunnedah, Inverell and Narrabri hospitals have also decreased across most triage categories.
Moree hospital’s emergency department recorded greater waiting times for most patients to be seen in the urgent and semi-urgent categories from the previous quarter, but waits had dropped from the previous year.
The time it took for 95 per cent of emergency cases to be seen fell by six minutes in both cases.
While the hospital exceeded the targets for patients to leave the emergency department and patients to be transferred from ambulances, the proportion of patients meeting these recommended timeframes dropped.
There was a general reduction in waiting times for patients across the state, despite a 3 per cent increase in the number of patients from the same quarter of 2011.
Patients classified as urgent and semi-urgent recorded some of the shortest waiting times for the quarter in five years.