New report looks at Australia’s growing private hospital admissions

There has been a rise in admissions to private hospitals in Australia according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Australian hospital statistics 2012-13: private hospitals, shows in 2012-13, there were about 3.8 million admissions in private hospitals in Australia, making up 41% of all admissions.

'From 2003-04 to 2012-13, the number of same-day admissions in private hospitals increased 60% from 1.65 million to 2.65 million admissions and overnight admissions increased 21% from 986,000 to 1.20 million,' said AIHW spokesperson Jenny Hargreaves.

In comparison, public hospital same day admissions increased by 35% and overnight admissions by 28%.

From 2003-04 to 2012-13 the number of beds increased by 9% in private overnight hospitals (from 24,642 to 26,889 beds) and by 51% in private day hospitals (from 1,947 to 2,938 beds).

Most private hospitals are located in Major cities - 21 of the 22 overnight hospitals that provide a 24 hour emergency service and an intensive care unit were located in Major cities (95%). 228 of the 259 day hospitals were also located in Major cities (88%).

'Use of private hospitals was highest for people living in Major cities (175 admissions per 1,000 people). Use was lowest for those living in Very remote areas (67 admissions per 1,000 people),' Ms Hargreaves said.

The areas with the highest admission rates included Noosa in Queensland, Ku-ring-gai in New South Wales and Holdfast Bay in South Australia.

Over the ten years to 2012-13, the proportion of separations that were for older age groups increased, with the greatest increase for people over 85 years (145% for males and 100% for females).

'In 2012-13, the most common same-day procedures included haemodialysis and colonoscopies. For overnight admissions, the most common procedures included coronary angiography and caesarean section,' Ms Hargreaves said.

Many private hospitals report on safety and quality measures voluntarily.

127 private hospitals reported rates of Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (bloodstream infections caused by 'golden staph'), with an average rate of 0.2 cases per 10,000 days of patient care.

Another aspect of safety and quality-of-care data involves monitoring hand hygiene- the extent to which healthcare workers wash their hands before and after touching a patient, for example.

'The average rate of hand hygiene compliance, for the 83 private hospitals for which data were available, was 82%, with a range from 65% to 100%,' Ms Hargreaves said.

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, 26 September 2014

Further information: Jenny Hargreaves, AIHW, phone 02 6244 1121 or 0407 012 520