According to the report published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), there were 11.1 million hospitalisations in 2019-20, down from 11.5 million in 2018-19, bringing an end to years of growth in hospital admissions, reports Xinhua news agency.
Hospitalisations grew by an average of 3.3 per cent annually between 2014-15 and 2018-19 before falling by 2.8 per cent in 2019-20 when the pandemic hit.
“The Covid-19 pandemic had a profound impact on activity in Australian hospitals. Restrictions on some hospital services, associated measures in other health care settings to support social distancing, alongside changes in community behaviours resulted in an overall decrease in hospital activity,” AIHW spokesperson Adrian Webster said in a statement.
Same-day hospitalisations fell by 2.1 per cent while overnight admissions, which are usually recommended for elective surgery patients, were down 4 per cent.
Admissions at private hospitals decreased 4.5 per cent compared to a 1.7 per cent fall at public hospitals.
Elective surgeries were suspended across Australia for much of 2020 in order to make beds available for Covid patients.
“This decrease is in contrast to the previous five-year period, where same-day hospitalisations increased by 4.0 per cent each year, and overnight hospitalizations increased by 2.1 per cent on average each year,” Webster said.
“The larger decrease in private hospitals was heavily influenced by the restrictions placed on certain categories of elective surgeries from March 2020.”
Australia has so far reported 30,130 confirmed cases of Covid-19, while the death toll stood at 910.