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The number of hospital admissions in Australia continues to rise, particularly in public hospitals, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Australian hospital statistics 2010­­­–11, shows hospital admissions increased from 8.5 million to 8.9 million between 2009–10 and 2010–11.

The increase in admissions was higher in public hospitals (4.1%) than in private hospitals (3.9%).

‘This contrasts with the trend over 5 years which showed larger increases for private hospitals than for public hospitals,’ said AIHW spokesperson Jenny Hargreaves.

Of the 8.9 million hospital admissions, 5.3 million were in public hospitals and 3.6 million were in private hospitals.

The increased admissions in public hospitals were accompanied by increased spending. Expenditure on public hospitals was $37 billion in 2010–11. This spending has been increasing faster than inflation, rising by an average of 5.9% each year between 2006-07 and 2010-11 and by 8.2% between 2009–10 and 2010–11.   

‘People aged over 65 make up a large proportion of all hospital admissions—accounting for 38% of hospital admissions in 2010–11 and 48% of patient days,’ Ms Hargreaves said.

‘Admissions for people aged 85 and over increased significantly in the 5 years to 2010–11—rising by 41% compared with an increase of about 15% for all other age groups.’

Most of these admissions were for acute care (87%) or rehabilitation care (8%).

There were 2.2 million admissions that involved a surgical procedure in 2010-11. Of these, about 280,000 were emergency admissions and the remainder were elective (planned).

About two-thirds of elective admissions involving surgery were in private hospitals.

In contrast, about 87% of emergency admissions involving surgery were in public hospitals.

‘Indigenous Australians had about twice the rate of emergency admissions involving surgery compared with other Australians,’ Ms Hargreaves said.

Today’s report has been released in conjunction with updates to the MyHospitals website (www.myhospitals.gov.au). A companion report, Australia’s hospitals 2010-11: at a glance, is also available.

Data on emergency department waiting times will be revised in the on-line versions of the report and on MyHospitals after the ACT supplies corrected data to the AIHW.

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, 30 April 2012

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

Full publications: Australian hospital statistics 2010­­­–11 and Australia’s hospitals 2010-11: at a glance