Hospitals are a vital and highly visible part of Australia's health system. What services do our hospitals provide? How do public and private hospitals compare? How quickly are hospitals providing emergency department services or elective surgery? How much do our hospitals cost?

Australian hospital statistics 2007-08 helps to answer questions such as these.

Services provided

Public hospital emergency department presentations are increasing at a faster rate than other hospital services.

  • Public hospitals dealt with more than 7 million presentations to emergency departments in 2007-08, and there was an increase of about 4.9% each year since 2003-04.
  • Our hospitals handled about 7.9 million admissions in 2007-08, and there was an increase of about 3.6% each year since 2003-04.
  • Public hospitals provided about 41 million services through outpatients departments in 2007-08, and there was an increase of about 2.4% each year since 2003-04.

Public and private hospitals

Public and private hospitals have different service profiles.

  • Medical care accounted for 74% of public hospital admissions in 2007-08, and increased in volume by 16% from 2003-04 to 2007-08, more than the increase in surgical care (9%). In private hospitals, surgical care accounted for 41% of admissions in 2007-08, and both surgical and medical care increased in volume by 18% from 2003-04 to 2007-08.
  • An increasing proportion of admissions over the years have been for same-day care - 50% in public hospitals in 2007-08, and 66% in private hospitals.

Who waits, how long?

Waiting times and admission rates are used to judge the accessibility of hospital services.

  • For people going to public hospital emergency departments, 100% of the most urgent cases were seen on time and 69% overall - about the same as in recent years.
  • The median waiting time for elective surgery in public hospitals was 34 days, up from 28 days in 2003-04. The proportion of people waiting over a year (3%) was lower than the 4% for the few years before.
  • People living outside major cities, those with lower socioeconomic status and especially Indigenous Australians had higher rates of public elective surgical admissions than their counterparts. People living in major cities and those with higher socioeconomic status had relatively high rates of private elective surgical admissions.


Expenditure on hospitals rose more quickly than inflation.

  • Recurrent expenditure on Australia‚Äôs public hospitals was $29 billion in 2007-08. The 6% rise from 2006-07 expenditure (adjusted for inflation) was similar to previous years.