Only about half of emergency department patients are seen within recommended time limits in Tasmanian hospitals, well below the national median of 65 per cent seen within the time limit, according to new data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The AIHW 2022-2023 data released on Wednesday portrayed a creaking state hospital system overburdened with emergency department patients and not meeting the average ED standards across Australia.
The median Tasmanian emergency department patient waits 30 minutes to be seen, about 50 per cent longer than the national average of 20 minutes, according to the data.
AMA Tasmania president Dr John Saul said the figures revealed both improvements and areas where the state government needed to do better.
He said the proportion of category 2 elective surgery patients admitted within the recommended time period had improved by 6.4 per cent compared to the previous year.
He also praised the government for the high number of elective surgeries taking place - 21,364 such surgeries were delivered during the year.
Elective surgery waiting times fell from 57 days for the median patient in 2018-19 to 53 days in 2022-23.
That compared with the national average elective surgery wait of 49 days in 2022-2023.
"It's pleasing to see excellent numbers of cataracts being done in Devonport, for example," Dr Saul said.
"But in the same breath, we know that challenging hip and knee replacements are less likely to be done in that area [on the North-West coast]."
He said emergency departments were among his biggest concerns in the state health system.
"Where we are really struggling is that four out of five patients in our EDs can wait up to four hours before being seen, and this is almost twice the average of mainland states," he said.
He said the government has announced record spending on hospitals, but he said there was also record demand for treatments as the state's population ages and presents with chronic diseases at a higher rate than the mainland.
The data also highlighted the diabetes crisis in Tasmania, with more amputations happening in the state than others with significantly higher populations.
Health Minister Guy Barnett talked up the elective surgery results in a statement issued on Wednesday.
"Our clinician-led elective surgery plan continues to work, with record levels of surgery delivered in the last 12 months, and the length of wait time falling significantly", Mr Barnett said.
"The wait list has now remained below 8000 patients since June 2023.
Tasmania also improved the proportion of patients admitted within the clinically-recommended time, from 57.2 per cent in 2021-22 to 61.7 per cent in 2022-23, Mr Barnett pointed out.
The AIHW data revealed significant problems in the national hospital system, where nearly half of all patients are waiting more than the recommended time in emergency departments.
It also revealed that the number of patients on elective surgery waiting lists across Australia have surged past 850,000.