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Introduction

Hospitals are an important part of Australia's health landscape, providing services to many Australians each year.

A summary measure of the significance of Australia’s hospitals is the amount that is spent on them—an estimated $46.3 billion in 2009–10, about 3.7% of Australia's gross domestic product, or about $2,181 per person (AIHW 2011). Hospital spending has been increasing faster than inflation—adjusted for inflation, it increased by 5.0% each year, on average, between 2004–05 and 2009–10.

Access to our hospital services, the quality of the services, as well as funding and management arrangements for them are under constant public scrutiny. This summary report presents an overview of statistics on our hospitals that can serve as a background to public discussion and debate.

While most data for this report are for 2010-11, 2011-12 data have been included for emergency department care , elective surgery waiting times and Staphylococcus aureus  bacteraemia. Some data for private hospitals were only available for 2009-10.

More detailed statistics and information on how to interpret the data can be found in the companion report, Australian hospital statistics 2010–11. Further detail is also available in spreadsheets and interactive data cubes at <www.aihw.gov.au/hospitals-data/>.

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