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Public Hospitals

Reviewed and updated 3 April 2024

In this Guide, we provide an overview of how public hospitals operate in Australia.

Public hospitals are the backbone of the Australian health system.

If you have an urgent or acute health issue, you are likely to be treated in a public hospital.

If you need surgery that is classified as ‘elective’, it is sometimes hard to know whether you should opt for the public or private system.

This Guide explains:

  • what is a public hospital
  • what services public hospitals provide
  • how public hospitals operate, especially waiting lists.

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