Health policies and data

The OECD Project on Waiting Times


Excessive waiting times for non-emergency surgery are a major source of public dissatisfaction and hence a major health policy problem in many OECD countries.

The OECD carried out a project to investigate and compare across selected OECD countries :

  • i. measures member countries have taken to tackle excessive waiting times; and
  • ii. the causes of variations in such waiting times.

Initially, existing data was assembled, where available, on waiting times and surgery rates across countries.

The project started in 2001 and lasted for two years. Two working papers were released:


A Health Working "Paper Tackling Excessive Waiting Times for Elective Surgery: A Comparison of Policies in Twelve OECD Countries" (OECD Health Working Paper N°6) (with Annex 1 and Annex 2 was published in July 2003.Stage 2 of the project investigated the causes of variations in waiting times. A Health Working Paper "Explaining Times Variations for Elective Surgery across OECD Countries" was also released.


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