Patients wait more then four hours in emergency departments

ALMOST 20% of patients at New South Wales hospital emergency departments are still waiting more than four hours to get treatment, with regional areas still not improving, new health data shows.

The National Health Performance Authority on Thursday reported its latest data on waiting times, showing marked improvements in major city hospitals.

Across the nation, the lowest performing metropolitan hospitals increased the number of patients seen within four hours from 35% to 51% from 2011 to 2013.

But the improvements were "not as marked" at regional hospitals, with only five reporting gains of 10% or more from 2012 to 2013.

In NSW, most hospitals were still seeing only 71% of patients within the four-hour timeframe last year, despite a national target of 90% of ED presentations.

Those figures were backed by relatively poor performance at many major regional hospitals, seeing between 49% and 65% of patients in less than four hours.

That data was largely unchanged for regional hospitals, with improvements ranging between 0% and 6% for most hospitals.

NHPA chief executive Dr Diane Watson said the update presented an opportunity for hospitals to "learn from their peers".

"Hospitals are inspired through this information to make improvements and learn from others who are improving," she said.