Hospital-based facilities

Data relating to hospice care units across public hospitals are derived from the National Public Hospital Establishments Database (NPHED). Data for private hospitals, including facilities and specialised services for acute and psychiatric hospitals, are derived from the Private Health Establishments Collection, which was sourced from an annual survey collecting information relating to private hospital activities in Australia, but which ceased in 2016–17 (ABS 2018). Further details on the NPHED database can be found in the data source section.

Specialist palliative care inpatient units in public hospitals

A specialist palliative care inpatient unit  is a specialist unit delivering palliative care services and can include both free-standing facilities and wards within a hospital. However,these specialist units are identified differently in the NPHED across states and territories. Although palliative care services may be delivered in a range of settings, numbers of specialist palliative care inpatient units are reported in this section due to their specialised role in palliative care delivery. In addition, the information derived from the NPHED does not include all palliative care services in Australia; for example, private health-care providers/hospitals providing inpatient palliative care services are not in scope of the NPHED.

In 2016–17, a total of 133 public acute hospitals nationally reported having a hospice care specialist palliative care inpatient unit. This represents 1 in 5 (19.8%) of the 673 public acute hospitals (excluding public psychiatric hospitals) in Australia. Just under one-third (31.6%) of hospitals with a specialist palliative care inpatient unit were located in New South Wales (Figure APC.6). About one-quarter (26.4%) of public acute hospitals in Major cities had a specialist palliative care inpatient unit, and 1 in 5 (17.3%) in Regional and Remote (19.1%) area hospitals respectively.

Figure APC.5: Public acute hospitals with specialist care inpatient units, states and territories 2016-17

Vertical bar chart showing the number of public acute hospitals with specialist palliative care inpatient units by jurisdiction. NSW 42, Vic 25, Qld 23, WA 32, SA 8, Tas 1, ACT 1, NT 1. Refer to Table APC.15.

Source: Admitted patient palliative care and hospital-based facilities tables (114KB XLS)

Private acute and psychiatric hospitals

There were 300 private acute and psychiatric hospitals nationally in 2016–17. Of these, 24 (8.0%) had specialist palliative care inpatient units recorded. The average total number of specialist palliative care inpatient unit beds available nationally was 281, with an estimated 68,917 patient days and an average length of stay of 11.7 days (ABS 2018).


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ABS 2019. 2019. Deaths, Australia, 2018. ABS cat. no. 3302.0. Canberra: ABS.

ACCD (Australian Consortium for Classification Development) 2015. The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision, Australian Modification (ICD-10-AM)—9th edn.—tabular list of diseases, and Alphabetic index of diseases. Adelaide: Independent Hospital Pricing Authority.

AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2012. National health data dictionary. Version 16. Cat. no. HWI 119. Canberra: AIHW.

AIHW 2014. Australia’s health 2014. Australia’s health series no. 14. Cat. no. AUS 178. Canberra: AIHW.

AIHW 2015a. The health and welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 2015. Cat. no. IHW 147. Canberra: AIHW.

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AIHW 2016. Australia’s health 2016. Australia’s health series no. 15. Cat. no. AUS 199. Canberra: AIHW.

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Murtagh FEM, Bausewein C, Verne J, Groeneveld EI, Kaloki YE & Higginson IJ 2013. How many people need palliative care? A study developing and comparing methods for population-based estimates. Palliative Medicine 28(1):49–58 doi: 10.1177/0269216313489367.