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Overview

This page provides a summary of AIHW's information on Australian hospitals up to 2008–09. It illustrates changes in hospital activity over time and some differences between hospitals in the public and private sectors.

On this page

Data sources

Information on this page is drawn from the AIHW bulletin Australia's hospitals 2008-09 at a glance.

Australian Hospital Statistics 2008-09 contains comprehensive annual statistical reporting by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare on the characteristics and activity of Australian hospitals.

Hospitals included in this report include public acute care and psychiatric hospitals, private free-standing day hospital facilities and other private hospitals (including psychiatric hospitals).

How many hospitals are there?

In Australia, both public and private hospitals provide hospital services.

In 2008-09, there were 1,317 hospitals in Australia:

  • 737 public acute hospitals
  • 19 public psychiatric hospitals
  • 285 private day-only hospitals
  • 276 other private hospitals

The number of public acute hospitals was relatively stable between 2004-05 and 2008-09.

The number of private hospitals increased from 532 in 2004-05 to 561 in 2008-09.

See Chapter 4 of Australian Hospital Statistics 2008-09.

How many beds are there?

As hospital sizes vary considerably, the number of beds is a better indicator of the availability of hospital services than is the number of hospitals.

In 2008-09, there were:

  • 54,338 beds in public acute hospitals
  • 2,140 beds in public psychiatric hospitals
  • 2,168 beds in private day-only hospitals
  • 25,298 beds in other private hospitals.

The number of hospital beds increased by 2.7% between 2004-05 (81,717 beds) and 2008-09 (83,944 beds), an annual average increase of 0.7%.

There was a relatively large increase in beds in other private hospitals, and relatively small increases in public acute hospitals and private day-only hospitals (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Average annual change in the number of beds, by type of hospital, 2004-05 to 2008-09

Annual change in number of beds

A total of 654 public hospitals with 55,953 beds (97% of public hospital beds) were known to be accredited at 30 June 2009 (Figure 2). These hospitals provided 99% of public hospital separations (completed episodes of admitted patient care) and 98% of patient days (days spent in hospital as an admitted patient).

Private hospital data are only available for 2006-07. A total of 371 private hospitals and 23,917 private hospital beds (67% of hospitals, covering 90% of beds) were accredited that year.

Figure 2: Proportion of hospital beds that were in accredited
public and private hospitals, 2004-05 to 2008-09

Accredited hospital beds

See Chapter 4 of Australian Hospital Statistics 2008-09.

How diverse are public hospitals?

The 756 public hospitals are very diverse in size and the types of services provided for admitted and non-admitted patients (Table 1). The diversity of admitted patient services provided by each type can be gauged by the average number of diagnosis related groups reported (AR-DRGs).

Table 1: The diversity of public hospitals, 2008-09

Diversity of public hospitals

See Chapter 4 of Australian Hospital Statistics 2008-09.

How many people are employed in Australia's hospitals?

Australian public hospitals employed about 247,000 full-time equivalent staff in 2008-09, and private hospitals employed over 47,000 in 2006-07. Hospital staff include medical officers (such as surgeons, anaesthetists and other specialists, and trainees), nurses, diagnostic and allied health professionals (such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists), administrative and clerical staff, and domestic and other personal care staff.

Public hospitals

The largest staffing category in public hospitals is nurses, who made up 45% of the full-time equivalent staff numbers in 2008-09. Medical officers comprised 12% of full-time equivalent staff and diagnostic and allied health professionals comprised 14%. The number of salaried medical officers increased by an average of 8.1% annually between 2004-05 and 2008-09, to 29,200. The number of nurses increased by an annual average of 4.5%, to 112,000 in 2008-09 (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Average full-time equivalent staff, public hospitals, 2004-05 to 2008-09

FTE hospital staff

Private hospitals

The staffing mix in private hospitals is somewhat different from that in public hospitals, because most medical services are not provided by hospital staff and the range of services provided is different. The largest staffing category in private hospitals is nurses, who made up 60% of the full-time equivalent staff numbers in 2006-07 (ABS 2008). Medical officers and diagnostic and allied health professionals comprised 7% of full-time equivalent staff.

See Chapter 4 of Australian Hospital Statistics 2008-09.

How much do hospitals spend?

Hospital expenditure includes recurrent expenditure and capital expenditure. Recurrent expenditure is money that is spent on goods and services that are consumed during the year, for example, salaries. Capital expenditure includes money spent on buildings and large pieces of equipment.

Public hospitals

Between 2004-05 and 2008-09, recurrent expenditure by public hospitals increased by an average of 5.9% per year (after adjusting for inflation) (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Recurrent expenditure, adjusted for inflation, public hospitals, 2004-05 to 2008-09

Recurrent expenditure

Private hospitals

  • In 2008-09, recurrent expenditure by private hospitals was $8,137 million (including depreciation) (ABS 2010). After adjusting for inflation, this represented an increase of 6.1% compared with 2005-06.
  • About 51% of this expenditure was for salary payments (4,124 million).
  • Between 2004-05 and 2008-09, recurrent expenditure by private hospitals increased by an average of 2.4% per year (after adjusting for inflation).

See Chapter 4 of Australian Hospital Statistics 2008-09.

How are our hospital services funded?

Public and private hospitals are funded from a range of different sources, reflecting the types of patients they treat and the types of services they provide. Governments mainly fund emergency department and outpatient services, whereas admitted patient services are commonly funded by private (non-government) sources, as well as government sources.

The proportion of funding that was from the Australian government declined between 2000-01 and 2006-07, then increased in 2007-08 (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Funding sources for public hospitals, 2003-04 to 2007-08

Funding sources

See chapters 7, 8, 9 and 11 of Australian Hospital Statistics 2008-09.

What services do Australian hospitals provide?

Australian hospitals provide a range of services for both non-admitted and admitted patients. Services for non-admitted patients include emergency department services and outpatient clinics. For admitted patients, they include emergency and elective (planned) care, maternity services, medical and surgical services, either provided on a same-day basis, or involving a stay in hospital overnight or longer.

How has this activity changed over time?

Between 2004-05 and 2008-09, separations increased by 16.1% (14.4% in public acute hospitals and 18.8% in private hospitals) (Figure 6).

The number of patient days in public acute hospitals increased by 7.4%. For private hospitals, patient days increased by 10.1%.

The numbers of patient days per 1,000 persons were relatively stable for both public and private hospitals between 2004-05 and 2008-09 (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Separations and patient days per 1,000 population, public acute and private hospitals, 2004-05 to 2008-09

Separations and patient days

Who used these services?

In 2008-09, there were over 4.3 million separations for women and girls compared with 3.9 million separations for men and boys (52.7% and 47.3% of separations respectively) (Figure 7).

Separations increased for both males and females between 2004-05 and 2008-09. These increases were very marked for both males and females aged 55 and over (Figure 8). Most notably, separations increased by 51% for males and by 34% for females aged 85 years and over.

Figure 7: Separations, by age group and sex, 2008-09

Separations by age and sex

Figure 8: Change in the number of separations (per cent), by age group and sex, 2004-05 to 2008-09

Change in number of separations

Why did people receive this care?

The reasons that patients receive admitted patient care are usually described in terms of a diagnosis. For injury and poisoning, it can also be described in terms of the cause of the injury, for example, a traffic accident or fall. For other types of care, it can be described in terms of a treatment for an ongoing condition (for example, dialysis for renal failure).

Some high-volume diagnoses have experienced relatively large changes in volume between 2004-05 and 2008-09 in either public or private hospitals or both (Figure 9). For example, separations for care involving dialysis increased by 29% in public hospitals (to 866,000) and 28% in private hospitals (to 185,000). Separations for angina pectoris decreased by 18% in public hospitals (to 47,000) and by 15% in private hospitals (to 20,000).

Figure 9: Change in number of separations for selected principal diagnoses, public and private hospitals, 2004-05 to 2008-09

Change in separations by principal diagnosis

What care was provided?

In public hospitals, most separations were for Medical care - 4% in 2008-09. Between 2004-05 and 2008-09, separations increased most for Medical care (16.2%), and less for Surgical care (10.1%) and Other care (9.9%) (Figure 10).

Figure 10: Separations for Medical, Surgical and Other care, public hospitals, 2004-05 to 2008-09

Spearations for medical, surgical, other

In private hospitals, more separations were for Surgical care - 41% in 2008-09. Between 2004-05 and 2008-09, separations increased most for Medical care (17.3%), followed by Surgical care (16.8%) and Other care (15.8%) (Figure 11).

Figure 11: Separations for Medical, Surgical and Other care, private hospitals, 2004-05 to 2008-09

Separations for medical, surgical, other

Who paid for the care?

Over half of separations in 2008-09 were public patients (53%, mainly funded through Australian Health Care Agreements). Private health insurance accounted for a further 37%, and Self-funded patients and Department of Veterans' Affairs patients accounted for about 4% each (Figure 12).

Figure 12: Proportion of separations by principal source of funds, 2008-09 (per cent)

Separations by funding source

See chapters 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of Australian Hospital Statistics 2008-09.

Additional information

More detailed statistics, and more information on how to interpret the data presented here, is in the companion report Australian Hospital Statistics 2008-09.

Further detail is also available in Hospitals data cubes.