Soaring NHS waiting lists represent a key policy challenge and priority for this government. The waiting list for NHS treatment in England now stands at 7.2 million, up from 4.4 million on the eve of the pandemic, and 6.2 million in February 2022, when the government published its elective recovery plan. This plan, which aimed to reduce long waits for care and deliver a massive expansion in treatment capacity, is now a year old. Rishi Sunak has reiterated the government's focus on the issue, recently making falling NHS waiting lists one of his five key promises to the country.

On its own terms, how has the plan fared to date? Is the NHS on track to deliver its key waiting times and treatment volume objectives? Looking ahead, when might waiting lists be expected to peak, and at what level? As the NHS comes out of possibly its toughest winter to date, what challenges lie ahead?

This in-person event sought to answer these questions. IFS researchers presented analysis of NHS waiting lists in England over the last year and a new set of waiting list projections. This was followed by a response from Sir James Mackey, National Director of Elective Recovery at NHS England, and a substantive panel Q&A chaired by Paul Johnson, IFS Director.

Sir James was joined on the panel by:

  • Victoria Macdonald, Health and Social Care Editor at Channel 4 News
  • Dr Roberto Tamsanguan, Clinical Director for Tower Hamlets, Clinical Adviser at NHS Transformation, GP at Bromley By Bow Health Centre, and member of the government's Elective Recovery Taskforce

This event is funded by