New AIHW report highlights public-private mix

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Australia's private hospitals accounted for 59 per cent of surgical and 58 per cent of mental health hospitalisations in 2017-18, according to a new report from the Australian Insitute of Health and Welfare.

The report, Australia’s hospitals at a glance 2017–18, provides an overview of information about Australia’s public and private hospitals.

It says there were 11.3 million hospitalisations in the year - 6.7 million in public hospitals and 4.5 million in private hospitals.

In 2017–18, $71 billion (excluding depreciation) was spent on public hospital services, with private health insurers contributing $1.2 billion.

Between 2013–14 and 2017–18, hospitalisations increased by an average of 3.8 per cent each year, faster than the average population growth of 1.6 per cent over the same period.

Hospitalisations increased by an average of 4.2 per cent each year in public hospitals and by 3.3 per cent in private hospitals - same-day care increased by an average of 4.7 per cent each year, compared with 2.4 per cent for overnight care.

Same-day episodes accounted for 53 per cent of hospitalisations in public hospitals (3.6 million) and 71 per cent in private hospitals (3.2 million).

In 2017–18, public hospitals accounted for the majority of childbirth and medical hospitalisations - both 77 per cent.

Between 2013–14 and 2017–18, the average length of stay in public hospitals decreased from 3.3 to 3 days, and from 2.3 to 2.2 days in private hospitals.