Targets and Waiting Times: Exploiting a Quasi-Experiment to Evaluate the Use of Targets in the Provision of Health Care in the UK
Posted: 22 Jun 2007
Date Written: 2007
Objective: To estimate the effect of the English target regime on waiting times for hospital care.
Design: Comparative analysis of two sources of data: published monitoring data and hospital episode data, which is not used for monitoring purposes. Setting and participants: Patients waiting for admission to all specialties in NHS hospitals in England and Scotland between June 1997 and March 2004.
Main outcome measures: Percentages of patients waiting over 6, 9 and 12 months.
Results: The size of the waiting list is very sensitive to the data used to measure this list. Data which is published in Scotland show lower proportions waiting than comparable data which is not published. Episode data give a picture which lies between that from the published and unpublished census data. Comparison between England and Scotland are therefore sensitive to which data are used in the comparison. But regardless of which source of data is used, the 'targets and terror' regime in England lowered the proportion of people waiting for elective treatment relative to Scotland.
Conclusions: The strong focus on waiting times in England had the effect of reducing the length of time individuals had to wait for treatment. Reliance on published data reduces the apparent impact of the policy. There is a clear need for publication of comparable data in the two countries to aid policy making.
Keywords: Waiting Times, Policy Targets, Quasi-Experiment
JEL Classification: I18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation