Under pressure - Hospitals step up

State and territory health systems are shouldering a greater role in treating older Australians at a time when the Federal Government is under pressure to better fund aged care.

Here is a fact to surprise you: $71 billion was spent on Australia’s public hospitals last year.

That was an increase of 3.3 percent on the previous year, a sharp increase on the 1.8 per cent average increase for the previous three years.

Why the jump?

Simply, there are a lot of us growing older, living longer ... with ailments.

As two new reports from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show, over 65s are over represented in emergency presentations compared to other age groups:

  • Over 65s are 15 per cent of the population but represent 42 percent of all hospital users and 48 per cent of patient days in hospital.
  • Over the past four years hospitalisation of 65 - 74 year olds increased nearly 6% each year, faster than the average annual population growth for this age group (4.1%).

Palliative Care

Last year there were 46-thousand hospitalisations. Interestingly, most of those were in public hospitals. Palliative care hospitalisations remained stable for private hospitals and increased by an average of 4.7% per year for public hospitals.

Dementia admissions

Ninety-five thousand people with dementia were hospitalised in 2016-17. On average, patients stayed 13 days.

Most patients hospitalised with dementia had an average of eight additional health conditions, commonly related to the urinary system (42%) and type 2 diabetes (24%).

Where dementia was an additional diagnosis, the most common principal diagnosis was related to injury (21%), and more than 1 in 3 (36%) were for a leg fracture.

Home care

National Seniors Australia wants the Federal Government to better fund the home care package program. It would benefit the health of older Australians and help cut the demand on hospitals.

The program is so underfunded, more than 100-thousand seniors are waiting up to 18 months to enter aged care homes or dying before they get the support.

Clearly, aged care spans federal and state governments and must be addressed.

As the National Director of Uniting Care, Claerwen Little wrote in The Australian in August, “A first step would be to form an Ageing Council under the Council of Australian Governments. The ageing of Australia’s population needs an intergovernmental response in the same way as disability or the environment. Ageing is more than a footnote to the health system.”

Differences in hospital costs between states is also having an impact on private insurance policy users.

As the Sydney Morning Herald reported, private health funds HCF and Medibank have clawed back higher fees charged by public hospitals in NSW and the ACT.

Australians insured with both funds could face hundreds of dollars per night in out-of-pocket fees.

It’s just one of the reasons why we’re fighting hard to put a brake on rising health care costs and help older Australians access the best possible medical services to suit their needs.

We want increased transparency and consistency within our health care system – but we can’t do it without your support.

Join our campaign to reduce out-of-pocket Health costs.

Learn more

Keep informed

To find out how National Seniors Australia, our members and supporters are fighting for change in the aged care sector, check out the Royal Commission page on our website.

You can also listen to National Seniors CEO, John McCallum and Chief Advocate, Ian Henschke's recent media interviews on the topic here.

You too can make a difference. Add your voice to the campaign today.

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