The amount of potentially preventable hospitalisations across the Griffith area has seen a slight decrease in 2017-18, according to a new report.
Data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare indicated 748,000 hospitalisations in Australia during the 2017-18 reporting period were potentially preventable with 2,109 instances of potentially preventable hospitalisations (PPH) in the Griffith - Murrumbidgee (West) statistical area - a decrease from a six-year-high in 2016-17 of 2,208 but the second-highest amount reported in the years since 2012-13.
A total of 8,283 hospital bed days - the days between a patient's admission and separation from a hospital for a PPH - were taken up in the area during the 2017-18 period, with the average length of stay reaching a six-year-high of 3.9 days.
The leading cause of PPHs in the area during the 2017-18 reporting period was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, with 342 hospitalisations and a total of 1,634 hospital bed days taken up as a result of the disease.
However, the area remains below the wider region and state averages, with the average hospital stay for Murrumbidgee and NSW residents totalling four and 4.5 days respectively.
The Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network's senior manager of planning and data Dr Alison Koschel said it was a priority of the organisation to work to further reduce the amount of PPHs in the region through the reduction of potential risk factors leading to preventable hospitalisations, with areas of a lower socio-economic status seeing a higher rate of risk factors which lead to PPHs.
"In terms of all primary health networks we rate quite lowly for many things, meaning we have higher amounts [of PPHs] than the rest of the nation," Dr Koschel said.
"When we look at our populations we look at people not health conditions... in Griffith, obesity is a significant issue among both males and females.
"It's important to note people should be involved in their own healthcare... [but] if it comes at the cost of a gym membership you can't afford, it doesn't happen."
AIHW spokesperson Richard Juckes said classifying a hospitalisation as 'potentially preventable' does not mean the hospitalisation was unnecessary but management at an earlier stage could have prevented the condition from needing hospitalisation.
"It's important to note that a higher rate of PPH doesn't always indicate a less effective health system," Mr Juckes said.
"PPH are useful for identifying variations between different groups and understanding health inequalities."