Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association

The utilisation of public and private hospitals in Victoria: An issue of access?

Denise O'Hara and Chris Brook

Australian Health Review 19(3) 40 - 55
Published: 1996


Consumers regard access to hospital services as one of the key components of qualityin health care delivery. A mixed public/private system operates in Victoria, but amorbidity collection from private hospitals was commenced only relatively recently.In 1993?94 the collection covered 82- per cent of private hospital separations, andit was considered timely to examine the utilisation patterns in the private system andcompare them with those in the public system. Medical and surgical emergencies andother complex conditions and procedures are serviced largely in the public sector,whereas private hospitals are utilised for elective and less complex surgery and non-urgentconditions. Occupancy rates are around 79- per cent in public hospitals and67- per cent in private hospitals. Elective surgery waiting list data suggest that whileurgent cases are treated within a month, significant proportions wait six months ormore for non-urgent surgery. Private health insurance is the main factor indetermining access to and the utilisation private hospitals. The current MedicareAgreement and the move to separate the role of purchaser and provider may allowthe maximal utilisation of private hospitals and diminish the burden of chronicillness.

© AHHA 1996

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