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NT ER waiting game worst in Australia

AAP logoAAP 17/11/2016 Lucy Hughes Jones

Territorian hospital patients have the longest wait times for emergency departments in the country.

A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows the median wait time for NT emergency patients last year was 30 minutes, well above the 19-minute national median.

Last financial year 61 per cent of NT patients in emergency departments were seen within the necessary time for their illness or injury, compared to 74 per cent of people nationally who were seen on time.

According to the report, 45 per cent of Territorians presenting to emergency wards last year were indigenous.

The good news is wait times for Territorians have steadily shortened since 2011, with the NT the only jurisdiction in Australia to record an improvement last year.

NT Health Department acting chief executive Janet Anderson attributed the lag to "significantly higher demand and patient acuity".

Royal Darwin Hospital and Alice Springs Hospital opened 23-hour emergency units in 2015 to allow inpatient wards to accept emergency patients, Ms Anderson said.

"The opening of the Palmerston Regional Hospital in 2018 will further increase the capacity for Top End Health Service to deliver timely and efficient emergency department services, relieving some of the demand at RDH," she told NT News.

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