Voice of reason
Dispelling the myths
There are a lot of myths in the community about the breadth and depth of services provided by Australia’s private hospitals – we do so much more than people think. Here, we address and dispel the common myths and misunderstandings that many Australians believe about private hospitals.
|Myth: Private Hospitals don’t offer everything the public system does. They pick and choose the simpler and more profitable services.
FACT: Private hospitals do undertake complex treatments. In fact, private hospitals provide 681 of the total 698 different procedures and treatments offered in Australian public hospitals, including complex surgery such as cardiac surgery, for example.
Private hospitals undertake the majority of in-hospital chemotherapy, the bulk of hospital care for veterans, the majority of hip and knee surgery, eye surgery and in-patient rehabilitation. Private hospitals play a crucial role obstetrics, speciality mental health care and palliative care.
(AIHW, 2010-11, Supplementary tables – Diagnosis related groups (Part 2) – admitted patient care)
|Myth: Private Hospitals don’t have emergency wards.
FACT: In 2009-10, twenty-six Australian private hospitals had dedicated emergency departments.
More than 5% of all admissions to private hospitals require emergency care, that is, unplanned, non-elective clinical care required within 24 hours of admission. For example, in 2011-12, 200,769 out of 3,744,677 separations admitted to private hospitals required emergency care. Each year, private hospitals also provide more than 500,000 out-patient Accident and Emergency occasions of services.
(AIHW, 2011-12a, pp. 15-16, Table 2.10)
(ABS, 2011, Cat 4390.0)
|Myth: Private hospitals don’t train future doctors and nurses.
FACT: We train the current and next generation of Australian doctors, nurses and other health professionals.
According to Health Workforce Australia (HWA), every year, private hospitals provide more than 500,000 days training to trainee health professionals each year.
(http://data.hwa.gov.au/, last visited at 26 March 2013)
|Myth: Private hospitals are exclusive to a selected few.
FACT: Care in private hospitals is more affordable than many people realise. Last financial year, we treated 3.74 million out of 9.26 million Australians admitted to hospitals – some 40% of all patients admitted to hospital – including public patients, and veterans.
(AIHW, 2011-12a, pp. 114, Table 7.1)
Twenty-five percent of patients from Australia’s the most disadvantaged communities (the lowest socio-economic quintile of the Australian population) are treated in public hospitals. More than half of the elective surgeries for patients from these communities are done by private hospitals.
(AIHW, 2011-12a, pp. 126 and 217, Tables 7.8 and 10.5)
|Myth: Elective surgery is the same as cosmetic surgery. Private hospitals only do ‘lumps and bumps’ and obstetrics.
FACT: Elective surgery isn’t cosmetic surgery. It is often complex and life-saving procedures such as cardiac surgery and hip and knee replacements that get our patients up and enjoying life again quickly. In 2011-12, private hospitals and day surgeries treated 1,339,422 out of total 2,015,570 elective surgery admissions . That is, 2 out of every 3 elective surgeries.
(AIHW, 2011-12a, pp. 213, Table 10.3)
|Myth: Private hospitals are funded by private health insurance.
FACT: Private hospitals are owned and operated by not-for-profit religious and charitable institutions or commercial enterprises. The services we provide to patients are partially or fully subsidised from sources including private health insurance funds, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, third party insurers and patients themselves.
Public hospitals actually receive a significant amount from insurance funds – nearly $860 million in benefits in 2011-12, with New South Wales receiving almost 50% of the payments.
|Myth: Private hospitals only think about profits and not about patients.
FACT: Australia’s private hospitals are diverse – some are operated by charities, some on a not-for-profit basis and others as commercial entities. But regardless of our structure, our patients are our absolute priority.
|Myth: Private hospitals don’t have to meet the same safety and quality standards.
FACT: Private hospitals have to meet more safety and quality standards and protocols than public hospitals. We have a strong reason to maintain a high standard of safety and quality of services and we are proud of the standard of services we provide.
From January 2013, all public and private hospitals were required to be accredited against a nationally consistent and uniform set of measures known as National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (NSQHS Standards) developed by Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC).
Furthermore, 268 private hospitals are participating in the Australian Government’s MyHospitals website which provides information about individual hospital performances, including hospital services, patient admissions, waiting times for elective surgery and emergency department care, measures of safety and quality, cancer services and hospital accreditation.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Australian Hospital Statistics 2011-12.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Australian Hospital Statistics 2010-11, Supplementary tables – Diagnosis related groups (Part 2) – admitted patient care.
- Private Health Insurance Administration Council (PHIAC) data. (http://phiac.gov.au/industry/industry-statistics/statistical-trends/)
- MyHospitals website. http://www.myhospitals.gov.au/private-hospitals (last visited at 2 May 2013).
- Health Workforce Australia (HWA) website. http://data.hwa.gov.au/ (last visited at 26 March 2013).