Palliative care admissions in public and private hospitals increased by 49 per cent between 2001 and 2011, according to a recent report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
More than 54,000 palliative care patients were admitted to hospitals in Australia in 2010-11, with 49.5 per cent of those patients aged 75 years or older.
In 2010-11, palliative care accounted for 0.6 per cent of all admissions, while in 2012 more than 30,000 patients accessed specialist palliative care services in Australia.
These services were provided in both hospital and non-hospital situations.
Of the 108 specialist palliative care services studied by AIHW, just over one third (36 per cent) met the national benchmark 3.2 – ensuring 60 per cent of patients in moderate/severe pain at admission were reduced to absent/mild pain at the end of care.
Nationally, about 9,600 patients received a palliative medicine specialist service that was subsidised through the Medicare Benefits Schedule during 2011-12.
Over the past five years, benefits paid for these services had more than doubled, with $3.5 million paid in 2011-12.
Medical care professionals who specialise in palliative care represent 0.38 per cent of employed medical specialists in Australia, which is nearly 4 in every 1,000 physicians.
In 2011, more than half (56.6 per cent) the estimated 92 palliative care professionals employed nationally were female.
This is more than double the proportion of women represented in other clinical specialists, with females making up only 25.6 per cent of the medical practitioners labourforce.
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