Demand increases for private hospital care

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A growing number of Australians are choosing to be cared for in private hospitals, new figures show.

A report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), released earlier this month, found admissions to private hospitals had grown at a rate of four per cent since 2010-11.

In comparison, the number of public hospital visits had only increased by 3.2 per cent during the same period.

AIHW spokeswoman Jenny Hargreaves said while the majority of hospital admissions in Australia were to public hospitals, “the number of admissions to private hospitals is increasing at a faster rate”.

The demand has certainly been felt at Tamara Private Hospital in Tamworth, where admissions have risen by 25 per cent since 2010.

Hospital chief executive Darren Ninness said better quality doctors and freedom of choice were factors people consider when choosing private hospital care.

“The data definitely falls true in Tamworth,” Mr Ninness told The Northern Daily Leader.

“Fundamentally, it comes down to having your own choice of doctor. I think that would be a drawcard.”

The hospital’s rehabilitation services had also had a big impact on the increase of admissions, Mr Ninness said. The Ramsay Health Care facility added a half-day program to its list of services late last year to cope with growing demand.

Mr Ninness said specialist care was also a driver for the numbers, but he insisted there is still work to be done in attracting more specialists to Tamworth, particularly ear, nose and throat professionals.

The AIHW report confirmed that private hospitals do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to surgery, with 60 per cent of surgical admissions occurring in private facilities.

“Surgically, the hospital is very active,” Mr Ninness said, adding that patients “don’t have to go to Sydney to get surgery.”

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