NONE of the Hunter's emergency departments have received a clean bill of health, with statistics showing four out of five people waited longer than they should for treatment. The region achieved only six green lights out of a possible 36, failing to provide treatment within clinically recommended timeframes across all areas in emergency medicine other than resuscitation. The Hunter's score card has been published alongside 'traffic light' ratings for public hospitals nationally as part of the Australian Medical Association's (AMA) 'Clear the Logjam' campaign. Federal AMA president, Steve Robson, said that of the 201 hospitals which have both elective surgery and public emergency departments and were included in the report, only three met all of their targets, down from 15 hospitals a year ago. "It's a significant worsening of the situation since last year's report and it tells us that we are in a system that is under enormous strain at the moment," Professor Robson said. "We have nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers who are desperate to provide care for Australians, but they need the resourcing to do that. It needs an urgent national plan." Maitland Hospital's report card was the Hunter region's worst with fewer than one in two people receiving semi-urgent treatment on time (47 per cent), and little over half receiving urgent treatment on time (55 per cent). More than two in three people requiring emergency medical assistance - within 10 minutes - did not receive it on time (69 per cent). The Newcastle Herald has previously reported that almost 70 per cent of of patients waiting at Maitland hospital ED left without treatment during the July to September quarter of 2022. Cessnock and Belmont Hospitals also struggled, failing to meet benchmark wait times across emergency, urgent, semi-urgent and non-urgent care categories. John Hunter Hospital also landed in the 'red' in terms of the AMA's traffic light rating system, with 84 per cent of patients or less receiving care within the clinically recommended timeframes. The NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association says excessive overtime and unsafe staffing levels inside the John's ED has stretched nurses beyond their limits, and have called on the NSW government to introduce nurse-to-patient ratios on every shift, including a ratio of 1:3 in the ED. Also at John Hunter Hospital, where senior doctors have accused Hunter New England Health of cooking the books on surgery wait times, the hospital failed to meet elective surgery benchmarks in two out of three categories. In a statement, Hunter New England Health apologised to those who had waited "longer than usual" in the ED but that the district continued to increase its workforce and grow its budget. "We thank the community for their patience and apologise to those that have waited longer than usual in the ED," the statement said. "Between mid-2012 and mid-2022, Hunter New England Local Health District increased its workforce by an additional 1,956 full time equivalent staff - an increase of 18.6 per cent, including 482 more doctors, 1,042 more nurses and midwives, and 187 more allied health staff." "The 2022-23 budget for Hunter New England Local Health District is over $2.66 billion, an increase of more than $103 million, or 4 per cent more, on the previous year's budget." IN THE NEWS: WHAT DO YOU THINK? Join the discussion in the comment section below. Find out how to register or become a subscriber here.