Hospital activity

Hospitals provide services such as:

  • admitted patient care, including for elective surgery
  • emergency department care, and
  • outpatient (non-admitted patient) care.

From 2014–15 to 2018–19, activity in all these sectors of the Australian hospital system steadily increased, however COVID-19 has impacted activity levels since 2019–20.

Hospital activity

All data in these visualisations are available for download in the Data & downloads section of the MyHospitals website.

Bookmark 1 Admitted patient care

There were 11.6 million hospitalisations in 2021–22. This was a 2.1% decrease from 2020–21.

Bookmark 2 Emergency department care

There were 8.8 million emergency department presentations in 2021–22.

Bookmark 3 Non-admitted patient care

There were 55 million non-admitted patient service events provided by public hospitals in various settings in 2021–22.

Open the following sections for summary information and explore more detailed information via the links at the bottom of the page.

Admitted patient care hospitalisations in public and private hospitals

In 2021–22:

  • there were 11.6 million hospitalisations, covering 31.8 million days of patient care
  • 59% (6.8 million) of hospitalisations were in public hospitals, accounting for 68% of days of patient care (21.7 million)
  • 41% (4.8 million) of hospitalisations were in private hospitals, accounting for 32% of days of patient care (10.0 million)
  • 63% (7.3 million) of hospitalisations were same-day and 37% (4.3 million) included an overnight stay.

Between 2014–15 and 2018–19 (pre-COVID-19), hospitalisations increased by an average of 3.3% per year. However, between 2019–20 and 2021–22, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of hospitalisations and patient days have fluctuated.

In the last year, since 2020–21, while there has been a 2.1% decrease in hospitalisations, there has been a 2.0% increase in days of patient care provided.

For more information, see the Admitted patient care activity page.

Emergency department presentations

In 2021–22, there were 8.79 million presentations (24,100 daily average) to public hospital emergency departments, slightly fewer than in 2020–21 (8.81million) – a decrease of 0.2%.

From 2019–20 to 2020–21, presentations to emergency departments increased by 6.9% after a decrease of 1.4% between 2018–19 and 2019–20. Overall, emergency department presentations have increased from 321 per 1,000 population in 2017–18 to 339 in 2021–22. 

For more information, see the Emergency department care activity page.

Non-admitted patient services

Non-admitted patient services are provided by outpatient clinics in Australia’s public hospitals. These services include patients attended to by specialist medical practitioners or allied health practitioners or having diagnostic or other procedures.

In 2021–22, 55.4 million service events were provided in outpatient clinics. Of these:

  • Allied health and/or clinical nurse specialist intervention clinics provided 38% (20.8 million)
  • 23% (12.6 million) were provided in Medical consultation clinics
  • Diagnostic services clinics provided 16% (9.0 million)
  • 23% (12.9 million) were provided in Procedural clinics.

For more information, see the Non-admitted patient care activity page.

Admissions from elective surgery waiting lists

In 2021–22, the number of admissions from elective surgery waiting lists was lower compared with the last reporting year and five years ago.

In 2021–22:

  • 623 ,000 patients were admitted for surgery from public hospital elective surgery waiting lists – a 17.5% decrease compared with 2020–21, and 16.9% decrease compared with 2017–18
  • the most common types of elective surgery after being on a waiting list were for general surgery (21%), urological surgery (16%) and orthopaedic surgery (13%).

For more information, see the Elective surgery activity page.