Long waiting times for health services is an important policy issue in most OECD countries. Reducing the time that people have to wait to get a consultation with a general practitioner, or a diagnostic test or treatment, can go a long way in improving patient experience and avoiding possible deterioration in their health. Governments in many countries have taken various measures to reduce waiting times, often supported by additional funding, with mixed success. This report looks at how waiting times for elective treatment, which is usually the longest wait, have stalled over the past decade in many countries, and have started to rise again in some others. It also analyses the differences in how long people have to wait to get a consultation with general practitioners or specialists across countries. The report reviews a range of policies that countries have used to tackle waiting times for different services, including elective surgery and primary care consultations, but also cancer care and mental health services, with a focus on identifying the most successful ones.
This series of publications analyses the organisation and performance of health systems, and factors explaining performance variations. Studies are conducted on such topics as co-ordination of care, pharmaceutical pricing, long-term care and disability, health workforce and international migration of health workers, information and communications technologies in health care, and the economics of prevention.