Emergency Departments: Access Targets
The Government will introduce a new Four Hour National Access Target for patients presenting to a public hospital emergency department to be either admitted, referred for treatment or discharged within four hours, where it is clinically appropriate to do so.
Emergency Departments: Access Targets fact sheet (PDF 40 KB)
How will the Four Hour National Access Target work?
How will the facilitation and reward funding work?
What has the Australian Government done so far to improve public hospital emergency departments?
Many patients are waiting too long to be treated at our public hospital emergency departments.
The most recent figures show that almost one in three patients in emergency departments wait longer than clinically recommended before they are seen.
The Australian Government is taking action through its National Health and Hospitals Network.
To improve timely treatment in emergency departments, the Government for the first time will:
- introduce a new Four Hour National Access Target for patients presenting to a public hospital emergency department to be either admitted, referred for treatment, or discharged within four hours, where it is clinically appropriate to do so
- invest $500 million to help emergency departments meet this target. The facilitation and reward funding will support about 1.2 million extra emergency department services.
How will the Four Hour National Access Target work?The Four Hour National Access Target will be phased in over five years and staged by triage
- 1 January 2011 – triage Category 1 (‘resuscitation’ )
- 1 January 2012 – triage Category 2 (‘emergency’ )
- 1 January 2013 – triage Category 3 (‘urgent’ )
- 1 January 2015 – triage Category 4 (`semi-urgent’ ) and triage Category 5 (`non-urgent’ )
How will the facilitation and reward funding work?From 1 July 2010, $250 million in upfront facilitation payments will be provided to states and territories to help with the costs of moving towards the Four Hour National Access Target.
The funding will help provide capital equipment, system planning and extra capacity needed to deliver immediate improvements, and lift the standards required under the National Health and Hospitals Network.
Reward funding of $250 million will be available to states and territories over four years if they meet or beat their targets. This reward funding will have to be spent in the health portfolio.
What has the Australian Government done so far to improve public hospital emergency departments?The Australian Government has significantly boosted funding for emergency departments, including an allocation of $750 million.
The funding injection is helping to pay for capital works improvements and upgrades for 37 hospital emergency departments so far, plus system-wide improvements that will benefit many other hospitals.
This is part of an unprecedented injection of $64 billion in our hospitals over five years commencing 2008-09. It comprises funding provided through the National Partnership Agreement on Hospital and Health Workforce Reform in support of the National Healthcare Agreement. This is an increase of more than $20 billion, or 50 per cent over the previous agreement.
States and territories under the National Healthcare Agreement with the Australian Government have committed to new performance benchmarks. Eighty per cent of emergency department presentations by 2012-2013 will have to be seen within clinically recommended times.
Investments have also been made to help ease the pressure on public hospitals, including:
- $500 million in sub-acute funding to expand sub-acute care services by 20 per cent over four years from 2009-10;
- $293 million for an extra 2,000 transition care places (698 places already allocated) – helping patients leave hospital sooner, receive follow-up care in the community and closer to home, and freeing up hospital beds; and
- $275 million for GP Super Clinics and the GP workforce so people can receive care closer to home.
Further information on the National Health and Hospitals Network is at www.yourhealth.gov.auback to top
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