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The impact of patient choice and waiting time on the demand for health care: results from the London Patient Choice project

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JournalApplied Economics
DatePublished - 10 Jul 2006
Issue number12
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)1363-1370
Original languageEnglish


In a number of countries where health care is publicly funded, policies to introduce greater patient choice are being implemented. In most cases patient choice is seen as an instrument to reduce waiting times for elective (non-emergency) hospital services. An important issue is whether facilitating greater patient choice will increase the demand for health care and thereby undermine the achievement of reduced waiting times. A large scale pilot of choice in the London metropolitan area permits a test of the hypothesis that choice will affect demand. This paper estimates a model of the demand for elective surgery using a panel of 150 English acute hospitals over the period 1995 to 2004 for three surgical specialties. It examines whether demand shifted following the introduction of the London Patient Choice Project in 2002. The results suggest that the choice project only shifted NHS inpatient demand in orthopaedics and that this shift was inwards.

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