Cataract surgery was the likely key driver in rebounding hospital admissions following easing COVID-19 restrictions.
Public and private hospital admissions rebounded in 2020–21, following a decline in the previous reporting period, according to new information from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The latest MyHospitals update shows there were 11.8 million hospitalisations in Australia in 2020–21, up from 11.1 million in 2019–20.
Following steady annual growth of 3.3% between 2014–15 and 2018–19, and a dip of 2.8% in 2019–20, hospitalisations increased by 6.3% nationally in 2020–21. This saw hospitalisations returning the trend to pre-pandemic years in most jurisdictions.
“The significant increase in hospitalisations at the national level can be largely attributed to the easing of restrictions following the first waves of the pandemic in most states and territories, particularly restrictions on elective (or non-emergency) surgery. The increase also reflects efforts to clear the backlog of surgeries that had been created the previous year,” said AIHW spokesperson Dr Adrian Webster (PhD).
Overall, same-day hospitalisations increased 8.1% and overnight hospitalisations increased 3.3% in 2020–21. The length of overnight hospitalisations in public hospitals remained unchanged between 2019–20 and 2020–21 and decreased 4.8% in private hospitals.
“The largest increase in hospitalisations was for principal diagnoses related to diseases of the eye and adnexa (19%), likely related to catch-up cataract surgery,” Dr Webster said.