COVID snaps Aust hospital admissions rise

·1-min read

The COVID-19 pandemic has snapped a steady trend of growth in Australian hospital admissions over the past five years.

The latest MyHospitals update, released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare on Thursday, shows there were 11.1 million hospitalisations across the nation in 2019/20.

That was down roughly 400,000 from the previous 12 months, and stands in stark contrast to a 3.3 per cent average yearly rise in hospitalisations since 2014/15.

"The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on activity in Australian hospitals," AIHW spokesman Adrian Webster said.

"Restrictions on some hospital services, associated measures in other health care settings to support social distancing, alongside changes in community behaviours resulted in an overall decrease in hospital activity."

Same-day hospitalisations (6.9 million) and overnight hospitalisations (4.3 million) both fell by 2.1 per cent and four per cent respectively.

Further, patient admissions (4.5 per cent) fell more than twice as sharply for private hospitals than public operators (1.7 per cent).

"The larger decrease in private hospitals was heavily influenced by the restrictions placed on certain categories of elective surgeries from March 2020," Dr Webster said.

Over the first six months of 2020 - which takes in Australia's first wave of coronavirus - there were more than 2600 hospitalisations for patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

Of those, 225 patients or 8.6 per cent stayed in an intensive care unit and 105 (four per cent) died in hospital.

In a demonstration of the most vulnerable demographics, those over 65 accounted for a third of the hospitalisations and 90 per cent of COVID-infected patient hospital deaths.

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