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The latest national information on Australia’s hospitals has been released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Australian hospital statistics 2009-10, shows hospital admissions increased from 8.1 million to 8.5 million between 2008-09 and 2009-10, with proportionally more growth in private hospitals than public hospitals.

‘There were 5.1 million admissions in public hospitals and over 3.5 million in private hospitals,’ said AIHW spokesperson Jenny Hargreaves.

‘In the five years to 2009–10 admissions to public hospitals rose by an average of 3.5% each year, while admissions to private hospitals increased by an average of 5% a year.

‘This increase was accompanied by a drop in the average length of time overnight patients spent in hospital, to 5.9 days in 2009-10 after being 6.2 days for the four previous years.’

Same-day admissions made up 58% of total hospital admissions in 2009–10, 51% in public hospitals and 68% in private hospitals.

Even though hospital admissions continued to rise, waiting times for public elective surgery in Australia increased from a median of 34 days in 2008–09 to 36 days in 2009–10.

There were 1.9 million admissions for planned (elective) surgery in 2009–10. The rate of elective surgery in public hospitals remained steady at about 30 admissions per 1,000 people each year between 2005–06 and 2009–10. Rates for elective surgery in private hospitals increased from about 49 per 1,000 to 55 per 1,000 over that time.

There were 7.4 million accident and emergency services provided in public hospitals in 2009-10 compared with 7.2 million the previous year. Overall, 70% of patients were seen within the recommended time for their triage category, including 100% of patients requiring treatment immediately.

Public hospitals spent about $33.7 billion in 2009-10. Adjusted for inflation, public hospital spending increased by an average of 5.4% each year between 2005-06 and 2009-10.

‘This is the earliest this report has been made available, with timely provision of data by state and territory health authorities allowing the information to be released a month earlier than previously,’ Ms Hargreaves said.

Today’s report has been released with a companion report, Australia’s hospitals 2009-10 at a glance, and updates to the MyHospitals website that include 2009–10 admitted patient and outpatient data for public hospitals, and additional private hospitals information.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 29 April 2011

Further information: Ms Jenny Hargreaves, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1121, mob. 0407 012 520

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032

Full reports:

Australian hospital statistics 2009-10

Australia's hospitals 2009-10 at a glance