The case of the missing hospital beds
AIHW Report – Admitted patient care 2013-14: Australian hospital statistics
AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, said today that the latest report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare is a welcome update on the state of Australian hospitals, but the AMA is concerned that this report is lacking data on a key performance indicator – the number of hospital beds.
A/Prof Owler said that the report, Admitted patient care 2013-14: Australian hospital statistics, does not report the number of beds available in public hospitals, a statistic traditionally included in this report.
“The number of beds is key information about the capacity of our hospital system to meet the community’s needs for acute medical care, and it is a mystery why it is missing. The AMA hopes to see bed number statistics in future reports,” A/Prof Owler said.
“The data that is published, however, shows that, of the 9.7 million admissions to hospitals in 2013-14, 5.7 million were in public hospitals and 4 million were in private hospitals.
“There was a modest 3.3 per cent increase in public hospital admissions compared to 2012-13, and a less than 0.1 per cent increase in patient days.
“Given the population grew by more than 1.7 per cent in the same period, these modest increases are barely keeping up with need under current public hospital funding arrangements.
“In contrast, private hospital admissions grew faster.
“On top of the missing bed numbers, the report does not provide forecasts about the future facing our public hospitals under the Commonwealth Government’s reductions to overall public hospital funding.
“Commonwealth funding was reduced in the 2014-15 Budget, and then further reduced in last December’s MYEFO.
“While there is a year-on-year funding increase, the amount of that increase is reducing at each Budget update. It is not keeping pace with increased demand, and is clearly inadequate to achieve the capacity needed.
“The Commonwealth has flagged that, from 2017-18, it will unilaterally change the basis for setting its contribution to future public hospital funding to indexation and population growth.
“This will create a totally inadequate base from which to index future funding for public hospitals.”
19 March 2015
Published: 19 Mar 2015