The pressure on Canberra's public hospitals continues to rise, with 7 per cent growth in admissions in 2015-16, despite the ACT having the lowest rate of preventable hospital admissions in the country.
The latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report on admitted patient care shows hospital admissions were up 3.7 per cent for private hospitals and 3.3 per cent at public hospitals nationally in 2015-16.
While data was not reported for the ACT's private hospitals, aggregated data for Canberra Hospital and Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce showed 7.2 per cent growth in 2015-16 alone.
The report showed admissions at Canberra's two public hospitals rose an average of 2.6 per cent a year between 2011-12 and 2015-16, from 97,455 in 2011-12 to 108,041 in 2015-16.
Of those patients, 91,504 were admitted as public patients, 11,857 were admitted as private patients, and 2625 were patients covered by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
The report also detailed the ACT's solid performance on preventable hospital admissions, at 21.2 "potentially preventable" admissions for every 1000 residents - the lowest in the country.
Capital Health Network chief executive Gaylene Coulton welcomed the low rate across all three broad admission categories: acute, chronic and vaccine-preventable conditions.
She said it showed there was a "strong primary health care system in the ACT" and demonstrated that "general practice takes a holistic and proactive approach in the management of patients to try to prevent avoidable hospital presentations".
Despite ACT Health previously having highlighted low bulk billing rates, cross-border flows and an ageing population with more chronic conditions, Ms Coulton would not comment on those issues.
The report also showed many New South Wales residents continue to come to Canberra for hospital care, the highest cross-border flow of any jurisdiction, with 17 per cent of patients in ACT public hospitals crossing the border for treatment.
Patients were also staying longer in Canberra's hospitals than any other state or territory except South Australia, with an average length of stay for ACT patients of 3.3 days compared to SA's average stay of 3.4 days and the national average of 3.1 days.
The vast majority of patients treated in the ACT public system were also acute patients, at 100,300 such patients, consistent with figures in other states and territories.
Some 7279 public hospital patients were admitted for emergency surgery in ACT public hospitals in 2015-16, a 6.9 per cent rise on the previous year, but a 0.4 fall in total numbers since 2011-12.
Similarly, the ACT's system had the second-highest rate for emergency surgeries in the country at 18.6 per 1000 residents, behind only the Northern Territory rate of 21.5 for every 1000 residents - likely a function of both lower overall residents and the public hospital systems' role serving a much wider regional area.
The top six issues for overnight admissions in the ACT in 2015-16 were: injury, poisoning and other external causes; pregnancy and childbirth; digestive diseases; circulatory diseases; respiratory diseases and diseases of the genitourinary system, consistent with most other jurisdictions.
At the national level, public patients waited on average 42 days for an elective surgery while private patients waited only 20 days on average - but those figures were not detailed at a state and territory level.
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