Hospital wait-time figures 'open to manipulation'

NEW figures have shown patients were spending less time waiting for treatment in Central Queensland emergency departments in 2013 compared to 2012.

An Auditor-General's report tabled to parliament showed 77% of emergency department patients had left within four hours - up from 67% in 2012.

However, the report questioned the accuracy of the figures - stating they were "open to manipulation".

The report said the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service, including facilities across Rockhampton, Gladstone and Emerald, were indicative of the state-wide situation.

"Public hospitals are reporting more people leaving EDs within four hours," it read.

"Our testing across the state indicates efforts to achieve the four-hour target have not resulted in adverse patient outcomes."

But Auditor-General Andrew Greaves said a lack of accountability meant the data could be manipulated.

"Whether deliberate manipulation has occurred becomes secondary; that data could be systemically manipulated - and this go undetected - in itself acts to reduce the users' confidence in its integrity," he said.

Opposition Health spokeswoman Jo-Ann Miller said there were "serious doubts" about the data.

"But with the release of the Auditor-General's report we see (Health Minister Lawrence Springborg's) claims are built on shaky ground.

"While patients with basic complaints may be out the ED door and on their way home quickly, those who need to be admitted to hospital for treatment are not despite what the minister keeps saying."

- APN NEWSDESK



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