Thursday, November 30, 2023

Do hospital mergers reduce waiting times? Theory and evidence from the english NHS


Do hospital mergers reduce waiting times? Theory and evidence from the english NHS
By: Vanessa Cirulli (Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, Italy); Giorgia Marini (Department of Juridical and Economic Studies (DSGE), Sapienza University of Rome); Marco A. Marini (Department of Social Sciences and Economics, Sapienza University of Rome); Odd Rune Straume (NIPE/Center for Research in Economics and Management, University of Minho, Portugal; and Department of Economics, University of Bergen, Norway)
Abstract: We analyse - theoretically and empirically- the effect of hospital mergers on waiting times in healthcare markets where prices are fixed. Using a spatial modelling framework where patients choose provider based on travelling distance and waiting times, we show that the effect is theoretically ambiguous. In the presence of cost synergies, the scope for lower waiting times as a result of the merger is larger if the hospitals are more profit- oriented. This result is arguably confirmed by our empirical analysis, which is based on a conditional flexible difference-in-differences methodology applied to a long panel of data on hospital merger in the English NHS, where we find that the effects of a merger on waiting times crucially rely on a legal status that can reasonably be linked to the degree of profit-orientation. Whereas hospital mergers involving Foundation Trusts tend to reduce waiting times, the corresponding effect of mergers involving hospitals without this legal status tends to go in the opposite direction.

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