More than one-third of patients in Australia's hospital emergency rooms are not being seen in the recommended time, a report has found.
Last year, 66 per cent of patients categorised as urgent at public hospital emergency departments were seen within 30 minutes - the time recommended by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine.
That fell below the national performance target of 80 per cent.
AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton says there is strong local evidence that people are at risk of injury and even death if hospitals don't have the capacity to meet patient demand.
"If there's insufficient beds in the system and we can't get people out of emergency it does cause harm," Mr Hambleton told reporters in Sydney on Friday.
"We do see unnecessary deaths that we do want to protect against."
The 2013 AMA Public Hospital Report Card found that despite a 10 per cent increase in federal funding since 2008 to 2011, there was no improvement in the performance of the nation's public hospitals.
The lack of improvement is a result of federal and state governments "playing the blame game", the AMA says.
"We've seen a lot of state governments withdrawing funds," Mr Hambleton said.
"And we've seen the federal government doing the same thing.
"We need to focus on solving the problem and not blaming each other.
"The fact is when you're sitting in emergency with your mum, you want to make sure that we've got the capacity to see her on time and have that chest pain sorted out."
Federal health minister Tanya Plibersek said the report card showed that work was required to improve emergency waiting times and elective surgery waiting lists.
"This report reminds us that we cannot slacken off; we need to be professional," she told reporters in Sydney.
Ms Plibersek said it was essential that federal and state governments worked together financially to enhance health care.
"Extra money has to come with better management, not just from the commonwealth, but also the states and territories," she said.
"Improving our health system has to be a partnership."
Ms Plibersek refused to be drawn on whether the states were responsible for the poor report card, telling reporters: "I'm not blaming anyone."