Hospitals play an important role in Australia’s health care system, providing care to many Australians each year. Services are provided both to admitted patients (including for emergency and non-emergency, or what is known as ‘elective’, care) and non-admitted patients (through outpatient clinics and emergency departments).

This report provides an overview of national data available about Australia’s hospitals and the care they provide.

In Australia, hospital care can be provided by both public and private hospitals. Public hospitals are largely owned and managed by state and territory governments, with funding also provided by the Australian government. Private hospitals are owned and managed by private for-profit and not-for-profit organisations funded through charges to individuals that are often subsidised through a combination of government and private health insurance payments.

Hospitals are very diverse in location, size and the services provided. In 2020–21, there were 697 public hospitals in Australia, while the most recent data for private hospitals (for 2016–17) show that there were 657 private hospitals (including day hospital facilities) (ABS 2018).

A day in the life of Australian hospitals

On an average day in Australia’s hospitals:

  • $246 million is spent on public and private hospital services
  • 175,000 nurses and 52,000 doctors were employed in public hospitals
  • there were 32,400 hospitalisations in public and private hospitals
  • 24,100 people presented for care at Australia’s public hospital emergency departments
  • 128,000 services were provided to non-admitted patients
  • there were 1,700 admissions to public hospitals from elective surgery waiting lists
  • 2 out of 3 elective surgeries were performed in private hospitals
  • A hospital acquired complication occurred in 407 hospitalisations
  • 4 cases of Staphylococcus aureus blood stream infection were detected in public hospitals.

(Source: HEA 2020–21, NHMD 2020–21, NPHED 2020–21, NNAPEDCD 2021–22, NESWTD 2021–22, NAPCD 2020–21, NSABDC 2019–20)