Posted on 12 March 2002
Now a group of experts at the University of York are to make a study of what hospitals are doing about the waiting time figures for elective surgery that they themselves are reporting - and what hospitals might do if funding was different.
Professor Peter Smith and his colleagues have received a £55,000 grant from the Department of Health to look at the way in which the market for elective surgery is likely to respond to different policy initiatives.
Professor Smith of the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York said: "Our previous research for the Department of Health has improved knowledge of how patient demand responds to lower waiting times, and has been influential in forming government policy. We found that actually there is not a massive rush to hospitals when people know that waiting times are shorter.
"However we know less about how the supply side - that is hospitals - will respond. We want to understand how hospitals react to the waiting time performance they report, in the form of increasing throughput and improving efficiency."
Professor Smith's research will focus on NHS hospitals, rather than on population behaviour. "Studies of population behaviour have focussed on the inpatient waiting time. Our proposed research will look at the entire waiting experience, including outpatient waiting.
"Inpatient and outpatient waiting time data are available for all hospitals from 1994. We will also be trying to estimate future levels of NHS waiting times under different funding scenarios."