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Australians spent 24.3 mln days in hospital last year -report

07 June, 2007

Hospital admissions are up again according to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Australian hospital statistics 2005-06, shows there were 7.3 million public and private hospital admissions in 2005-06, compared to approximately 7 million in 2004-05. This included a 4.5% rise in public acute hospital admissions and a 3.3% rise in private hospital admissions.

'The total number of days Australians spent in hospital was 24.3 million, 2% higher than in the previous financial year.' said George Bodilsen of the Institute's Hospitals Unit.

Between 1996-97 and 2005-06 same-day hospital admissions rose from 45% of admissions to about 55%, and now account for almost half of admissions in public hospitals and 64% in private hospitals.

'The increasing numbers of same-day admissions means that the average length of stay for all admissions has fallen by 21% between 1996-97 and 2005-06, from 4.2 days to 3.3 days,' Bodilsen explained.

'While same day admissions have increased, the average length of other hospital stays has remained fairly constant. Excluding same-day admissions, the average length of stay in 2005-06 was 6.3 days in public acute hospitals and 5.4 days in private hospitals,' he said.

The report also provides statistics on many other aspects of hospital treatment, including services in public hospital emergency departments.

It showed there were approximately 6.3 million accident and emergency occasions of service provided in Australia's public hospitals in 2005-06, an increase over the 6.0 million provided in 2004-05.

In the majority of visits (69%), patients were seen on time, including 99% of those needing immediate care and 77% of those who required care within 10 minutes of arriving in the emergency department. The proportion seen on time overall was also 69% in 2004-05, 100% for those needing emergency care and 76% of those requiring care within 10 minutes.

During 2005-06, Australia had 1,291 public and private hospitals, with almost 82,000 available hospital beds. Compared with 2004-05, bed numbers decreased for public hospitals by 0.9%, to about 54,600, and increased for private hospitals by 3.0%, to about 27,200.

Total recurrent expenditure on public acute and public psychiatric hospitals was $24 billion in 2005-06, 5.6% higher than expenditure in 2004-05 after adjusting for inflation.

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