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Bed numbers rising more in private hospitals than in public hospitals

02 August, 2016

In 2014–15, there were 1,322 hospitals in Australia—698 public and 624 private hospitals, according to reports released 29 July 2016 by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

'In the five years to 2014–15, the number of public hospital beds increased by an average of 1.1% each year to 60,300 and private hospital beds increased by an average of 2.9% to almost 32,000,' said AIHW spokesperson Jenny Hargreaves.

Beds available for overnight hospitalisations (rather than for same-day care) accounted for 63% of the increase in public hospitals. For private hospitals, 96% of the increase in beds was in hospitals that provided overnight care.

Australia's hospitals 2014–15: at a glance, provides a summary of information and performance indicators for the2014–15 financial year, as well as trend data over a five year period.

It accompanies two more detailed reports on hospitals—Hospital resources 2014–15 and Non-admitted patient care 2014–15.

For the first time, information is included on expenditure on public hospital service provision by Local Hospital Networks (which manage single or small groups of public hospital services and their budgets) and by state and territory health authorities (except for Queensland). In 2014–15, recurrent expenditure on public hospital services by hospitals, Local Hospital Networks and state and territory health authorities was about $57 billion.

Also for the first time, information is included on expenditure on broad categories of public hospital services. Of the $57 billion recurrent expenditure, the main types of services funded were admitted patient care (57%), outpatient care (17%), and emergency care (10%).

All hospitals across Australia are required to implement the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (NSQHS Standards) to improve patient safety. Accreditation is undertaken to assess if the NSQHS Standards have been implemented. Data on accreditation is collected by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, and AIHW analysis of the data indicated that about 93% of public and private hospitals were accredited to the NSQHS Standards (as at 30 June 2015), and the remaining 7% were not yet due to be assessed.

There were over 10 million hospitalisations overall, with the most common reason being dialysis for kidney disease (1.4 million hospitalisations), followed by cancer (1.1 million).

About 1 in 4 hospitalisations involved surgery, with 60% of surgery occurring in private hospitals. Cataract extractions were the most common surgeries performed (246,000).

Public hospitals admitted about 700,000 patients from elective surgery waiting lists, with 50% admitted within 35 days of being placed on the waiting list.

For the first time, outpatient clinic data were provided for all public hospitals that provide these services. Around 34.9 million outpatient services were reported. About 46% of outpatient service events occurred in allied health and/or clinical nurse specialist clinics, 30% in medical consultation clinics, 13% in procedural clinics and 10% in stand-alone diagnostic clinics.

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