In 2016–17, there were 695 public hospitals in Australia, with 62,000 available beds. More than two-thirds of public hospitals (68%) had fewer than 50 beds, while the 31 principal referral hospitals (mostly located in metropolitan areas) had an average of 660 beds.

Between 2012–13 and 2016–17, the number of available beds in public hospitals rose by 1.5% on average each year, while the number of beds per 1,000 population remained relatively stable at around 2.5. The proportion of public hospital beds that were only for same-day care increased during this period, from 12.3% in 2012–13 to 13.1% in 2016–17.

There were 630 private hospitals (including day hospital facilities) in 2015–16 with 33,100 licensed beds. Between 2011–12 and 2015–16, the number of licensed beds in private hospitals rose by 3.3% on average each year, and the number of licensed beds per 1,000 population increased from 1.3 to 1.4.

What specialised service units were provided by public hospitals?

Public hospitals provided a range of specialised units that deliver specific types of services for admitted and non-admitted patients.

In 2016–17, the most common specialised services were Domiciliary care (home-based care, provided by 373 hospitals) and Nursing home care (287 hospitals). There were 81 Intensive care units (level III and above) and 29 Neonatal intensive care units (level III and above).

How much was spent on public hospital services?

In 2016–17, total recurrent expenditure on public hospital services was $67 billion (including depreciation). After adjusting for inflation and for missing data, national recurrent expenditure on public hospital services increased by 3.2% between 2015–16 and 2016–17.

About 66% of total recurrent expenditure (excluding depreciation) was for salaries, wages and superannuation. Medical, surgical and drug supplies accounted for 13% of recurrent expenditure and administrative expenses accounted for a further 5%.

It is estimated that about 54% of recurrent expenditure was spent on admitted patient care, 20% on outpatient care, 9% on emergency department services and 2% on teaching, training and research.

How were hospitals funded?

In 2015–16, public hospitals were mainly funded by the Australian (39%) and state or territory (53%) governments, and about 8% of funding was from non-government sources. In contrast, about 68% of private hospital funding came from non-government sources.

Between 2011–12 and 2015–16, funding for public hospitals rose by 3.2% on average each year (after adjusting for inflation), from $46 billion to $51 billion. Funding for private hospitals rose by 6.0% on average each year, from $13 billion to $15 billion.

How many people were employed in public hospitals?

Nationally, 365,000 full-time equivalent staff were reported as employed in providing public hospital services in 2016–17. After adjusting for missing data, it is estimated that there were about 369,000 full-time equivalent staff. About 41% of staff were Nurses (151,000) and 12% were Salaried medical officers (44,000). Between 2012–13 and 2016–17, average salaries for nurses and salaried medical officers in public hospitals increased by 2.2% and 2.6% on average each year, respectively.