In 2013–14, some public hospitals spent nearly twice as much as others to provide similar services to similar groups of acute admitted patients. The average cost of care ranged from $3,100 at one hospital to $6,100 at another (Figure 1). The four major metropolitan public hospitals with the lowest average cost of care in 2013–14, and the four hospitals with the highest average cost of care in 2013–14, can be seen in Table 2.

The report also found that across all three financial years, the expenditure covered in this report for delivering acute care increased for major metropolitan public hospitals. However, this increase was accompanied by an increase in hospital activity relating to acute admitted patients. This means that the average cost of care for major metropolitan public hospitals remained relatively unchanged over these years. These cost figures have not been adjusted for inflation, meaning that as a group these hospitals have achieved improvements in efficiency (Table 1 and Figure 1).

In 2013–14, 16 major metropolitan public hospitals were found to have maintained or decreased their average cost of care since 2011–12. Notably, some of these were among those hospitals with the lowest average cost of care nationally in 2011–12 (Figure 1).

Table 1: Cost per National Weighted Activity Unit (NWAU) and percentage change for acute admitted patients, major metropolitan public hospitals, 2011–12 to 2013–14
Peer average measures 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 Percentage
Peer average expenditure per hospital $214,775,000 $222,300,900 $228,444,200 +6%
Peer average NWAU per hospital


50,917 51,668 +5%
Peer average cost per NWAU $4,380 $4,370 $4,420 +1%

Note: References can be found in the Technical Supplement and definitions of terms in the Glossary.

Sources: National Health Performance Authority analysis of results calculated using the National Hospital Cost Data Collection, the Admitted Patient Care National Minimum Data Set and the Hospital Casemix Protocol Data Collection. Data supplied 18 and 28 October 2014 (2011–12 data) and 27 November 2015 (2012–13 and 2013–14 data).