Hospitals have reduced the amount of time patients stay in the emergency department before being admitted, transferred or discharged.

Public hospitals are reducing the amount of time patients spend in the emergency department, but most are far short of a national target set for 2015.

Major city hospitals have made the biggest improvement, with two thirds of patients spending four hours or less in the emergency department (ED), according to a performance report for October to December 2013.

This is up from 53 per cent in the corresponding quarter of 2011, says the National Health Performance Authority report on 112 public hospitals.

Major regional hospitals have stayed steady with close to 70 per cent of patients spending four hours or less in the department.

The hospitals are allocated into four peer groups based on their size and location – major metropolitan, major regional, large metropolitan and large regional.

All states have agreed that 90 per cent of ED patients in all peer groups should be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours by the end of 2015.

So far, Mount Isa in Queensland has achieved 89 per cent, followed by Albany and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia at 88 per cent.

At the bottom of the rankings are Gosford in NSW, Western in Victoria, the Royal Adelaide and Flinders in South Australia, Royal Darwin in Northern Territory and Canberra in ACT, which are all around the 50 per cent mark.

The most improved hospital is the Princess Alexandra, a major metropolitan hospital in Queensland that has risen from 45 per cent to 65 per cent.

Other major metropolitan hospitals that have shown significant improvement include the Royal Brisbane and Women’s in Queensland, Dandenong in Victoria and Hornsby in NSW.

The most improved among major regional hospitals are Manning and Coffs Harbour in NSW and Toowoomba, Nambour and Townsville in Queensland.