Key facts:

Expenditure on public hospitals (excluding depreciation) was around $63.8 billion in 2016-17, with the Australian, State and Territory governments funding 91.6 per cent (non-government sources funded the remaining 8.4 per cent).

Nationally, in 2016-17, government expenditure on public hospitals was equivalent to $2606 per person, similar to 2015-16 ($2603) in real terms.

In 2016-17, there were 695 public hospitals in Australia – 3 fewer than 2015-16. Although 68.1 per cent of hospitals had 50 or fewer beds, these smaller hospitals represented only 13.4 per cent of total available beds.

There were approximately 6.6 million separations from public (non-psychiatric) hospitals in 2016-17. Nationally, this is equivalent to 254.2 separations per 1000 people. Acute care separations accounted for the majority of separations from public hospitals.

A total of 35.5 million individual service events were provided to non-admitted patients in public hospitals in 2016-17.

There were 7.8 million presentations to emergency departments in 2016-17.

Public hospitals aim to alleviate or manage illness and the effects of injury by providing acute, non and sub-acute care along with emergency and outpatient care that is:

  • timely and accessible to all
  • appropriate and responsive to the needs of individuals throughout their lifespan and communities
  • high quality and safe
  • well co-ordinated to ensure continuity of care where more than one service type, and/or ongoing service provision is required
  • sustainable.

Governments aim for public hospital services to meet these objectives in an equitable and efficient manner.

Publication Details
License type:
Access Rights Type:
Report on Government Services 2019
Chapter or part:
Part E (Health)