Emergency wait times at Armidale Hospital are among the highest in the Hunter New England Local Health District.
A new report released by the Bureau of Health Information reveals 20 per cent of patients are waiting more than four hours in the emergency department – an increase of about 15 per cent on the previous  year.
Armidale also recorded among the highest wait times in the district for high acuity patients who are waiting on average eight minutes before receiving treatment.
But HNEH general manager for Northern Tablelands Wendy Mulligan said an increase in patients was to blame.
“We have been extremely busy and the increase in presentations have been really high acuity,” she said.
Ms Mulligan said for the past three months the emergency department had been working at almost full capacity.
“Every one of our beds in the medical and surgical wards have been full every day,” she said.
“What that means is some patients have to stay in the ED longer, waiting to get a bed in the hospital.
We’re having to discharge patients to admit patients so that’s the problem at the moment.Wendy Mulligan
“We’re having to discharge patients to admit patients so that’s the problem at the moment.”
But it’s not all bad news.
“The surgery targets are absolutely spot on – we’ve cut down the wait time for eye surgery tremendously,” she said.
Wait times for ophthalmology have been slashed from 12 months to six – while patients requiring an orthopaedic procedure are being admitted 47 days faster.
“We have our theatres organised well and have waiting list meetings every week,” she said.
“We’re putting a lot of work into making sure we meet our targets.”