Summary

Hospitals play an important role in Australia’s health care system, providing care to millions of Australians each year. Services are provided both to admitted patients and non-admitted patients (through outpatient clinics and emergency departments).

Australia has 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 organisations, some of which are non-profit. Private hospitals are funded by charges to patients that are often subsidised by government and private health insurance payments.

In 2020–21, there were 697 public hospitals in Australia. The most recent data for private hospitals (for 2016–17) show 657 private hospitals (ABS 2018).

On average per day, Australian hospitals: 

  • treat 24,100 people in emergency departments at public hospitals
  • record 31,800 hospitalisations in public and private hospitals
  • record 1,700 admissions to public hospitals from elective surgery waiting lists
  • provide 152,000 services to non-admitted patients
  • employ 175,000 nurses and 52,000 doctors in public hospitals
  • cost $246 million to run public and private hospitals
  • record 401 hospitalisations with a hospital-acquired complication in public and private hospitals
  • record 4 Staphylococcus aureus blood stream infection in public hospitals.

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