Hospital resources and diversity

In Australia, hospital services are provided by both public and private hospitals.

Hospital resources

Public hospitals are largely owned and managed by state and territory governments. Public acute hospitals mainly provide ‘acute care’ for short periods, although some provide longer-term care, such as for some types of rehabilitation. Public psychiatric hospitals specialise in the care of people with mental health problems, sometimes for long periods.

Private hospitals are mainly owned and managed by private organisations—either for-profit companies, or not-for-profit non-government organisations. They include day hospitals that provide services on a day-only basis, and hospitals that provide overnight care.  

Hospitals and beds

In 2017–18, there were 693 public hospitals in Australia that provided 62,000 beds (about 2.5 beds per 1,000 people). The number of hospital beds increased by 1.5% per year between 2013–14 and 2017–18—slower than the growth in population over this period.

The most recent data from 2016–17 shows that there 657 private hospitals that provided 34,000 beds (1.4 beds per 1,000 people). The numbers of hospital beds grew by 3.3% per year between 2012–13 and 2016–17.

How diverse were Australia’s public hospitals?

The 693 public hospitals are very diverse in size and in the types of services they provided for admitted and non-admitted patients.

In 2017–18, the 31 Principal referral hospitals accounted for almost 2.5 million separations—or hospitalisations—about 38% of the total for public hospitals. These hospitals also accounted for 38% of patient days (the number of days of admitted patient care provided) for public hospitals.

See the visualisation below for more detail on the remoteness and services provided by public hospitals.

How many people were employed in Australia’s hospitals?

Public hospitals

In 2017–18, public hospital services employed 373,000 full-time equivalent staff, of which:

  • 42% were nurses
  • 12% were salaried medical officers
  • 16% were diagnostic and allied health professionals.

Private hospitals

The staffing mix in private hospitals is different from that in public hospitals. This is because most medical services are provided by visiting medical specialists (who are not hospital employees), and the range of services provided is different.

In 2016–17, private hospitals employed about 66,800 full-time equivalent staff, of which:

  • 55% were nurses
  • 2% were salaried medical officers
  • 7% were diagnostic and allied health professionals.

Where to go for more information

For more information on the different types of public hospitals in each state or territory, see the Diversity of public hospitals section of Hospital resources 2017–18: Australian hospital statistics.

More information on numbers of hospitals and beds is available in the Hospitals and average available beds section of Hospital resources 2017–18: Australian hospital statistics.

For more information about the number of private hospitals and staffing in private hospitals, see Private hospitals, Australia, 2016–17.

For more information on public hospital staffing in each state and territory, see the Hospital staff section of Hospital resources 2017–18: Australian hospital statistics.