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Did 'Targets and Terror' Reduce Waiting times in England for Hospital Care?

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  • Carol Propper
  • Matt Sutton
  • Carolyn Whitnall
  • Frank Windmeijer

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Abstract

Waiting times have been a central concern in the English NHS, where care is provided free at the point of delivery and is rationed by waiting time. Pro-market reforms introduced in the NHS in the 1990s were not accompanied by large drops in waiting times. As a result, the English government in 2000 adopted the use of an aggressive policy of targets coupled with publication of waiting times data at hospital level and strong sanctions for poor performing hospital managers. This regime has been dubbed ‘targets and terror’. We estimate the effect of the English target regime for waiting times for hospital care after 2001 by a comparative analysis with Scotland, a neighbouring country with the same healthcare system that did not adopt the target regime. We estimate difference-in-differences models of the proportion of people on the waiting list who waited over 6, 9 and 12 months. Comparisons between England and Scotland are sensitive to whether published or unpublished data are used but, regardless of the data source, the ‘targets and terror’ regime in England lowered the proportion of people waiting for elective treatment relative to Scotland.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK in its series The Centre for Market and Public Organisation with number 07/179.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:07/179

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Keywords: health care; waiting times; targets;

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  1. David M. Cutler, 2002. "Equality, Efficiency, and Market Fundamentals: The Dynamics of International Medical-Care Reform," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(3), pages 881-906, September.
  2. Richard Blundell & Mónica Costa Dias, 2008. "Alternative Approaches to Evaluation in Empirical Microeconomics," CEF.UP Working Papers 0805, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
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  4. Gravelle, Hugh & Dusheiko, Mark & Sutton, Matthew, 2002. "The demand for elective surgery in a public system: time and money prices in the UK National Health Service," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 423-449, May.
  5. Heckman, James J & Heinrich, Carolyn & Smith, Jeffrey, 1997. "Assessing the Performance of Performance Standards in Public Bureaucracies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 389-95, May.
  6. Siciliani, Luigi & Hurst, Jeremy, 2005. "Tackling excessive waiting times for elective surgery: a comparative analysis of policies in 12 OECD countries," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 201-215, May.
  7. Dusheiko, Mark & Gravelle, Hugh & Jacobs, Rowena & Smith, Peter, 2006. "The effect of financial incentives on gatekeeping doctors: Evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 449-478, May.
  8. Cutler, David, 2002. "Equality, Efficiency, and Market Fundamentals: The Dynamics of International Medical Care Reform," Scholarly Articles 2640584, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Burgess, Simon & Wilson, Deborah & Worth, Jack, 2013. "A natural experiment in school accountability: The impact of school performance information on pupil progress," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 57-67.
  2. Januleviciute, Jurgita & Askildsen, Jan Erik & Kaarboe, Oddvar & Holmås, Tor Helge & Sutton, Matt, 2013. "The impact of different prioritisation policies on waiting times: Case studies of Norway and Scotland," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 1-6.
  3. Martin Gaynor & Carol Propper & Stephan Seiler, 2012. "Free to Choose? Reform and Demand Response in the English National Health ServiceAbstract: The impacts of choice in public services are controversial. We exploit a reform in the English National Healt," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 12/297, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  4. Richard Cookson & Mauro Laudicella & Paolo Li Donni, 2011. "Measuring change in health care equity using small area administrative data – evidence from the English NHS 2001-8," Working Papers 067cherp, Centre for Health Economics, University of York.
  5. Silviya Nikolova; & Arthur Sinko; & Matt Sutton;, 2012. "Do maximum waiting times guarantees change clinical priorities? A Conditional Density Estimation approach," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 12/07, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  6. Cookson R & Laudicella M, 2009. "Do the poor still cost more? The relationship between small area income deprivation and length of stay for elective hip replacement in the English NHS from 2001/2 to 2006/7," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 09/07, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  7. Cookson, Richard & Laudicella, Mauro & Donni, Paolo Li, 2012. "Measuring change in health care equity using small-area administrative data – Evidence from the English NHS 2001–2008," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(8), pages 1514-1522.
  8. Dixon, Huw & Siciliani, Luigi, 2009. "Waiting-time targets in the healthcare sector: How long are we waiting?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 1081-1098, December.
  9. Propper, Carol & Sutton, Matt & Whitnall, Carolyn & Windmeijer, Frank, 2010. "Incentives and targets in hospital care: Evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(3-4), pages 318-335, April.

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