On point paper:
Going swimmingly or treading water: Is the Elective Recovery Plan bringing down NHS waiting lists?

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NHS waiting lists have risen to record numbers since the pandemic. Our 2021 report highlighted a total of 5.8 million people on the waiting list and a further 7.8 million people with potential hidden health needs as at September 2021. This increase in waiting lists is a persistent, indirect effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. Attempts to bring down the record-breaking numbers of people waiting for treatment have been ramping up. The NHS Elective Recovery Plan (ERP), launched in February 2022, is intended to make a major contribution to reducing waiting lists. In this paper, we set out:

  • how the national waiting list has changed over the year and the impact of the ERP;
  • inequalities in the waiting list by speciality and geography and how the ERP has so far impacted regions differently; and
  • our projections for past and future – how our previous projections compare to 2022’s waiting list and what our projections are for 2027 in light of over a year's worth of new data being available.

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