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Managing NHS backlogs and waiting times in England

The NHS in England was already running at close to maximum capacity before COVID-19 and pandemic disruption caused a sharp increase in waiting times and backlogs. Our December 2021 report on NHS backlogs and waiting times explained how these problems arose.

Addressing backlogs is a multi-faceted challenge for the NHS. Since our first report, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) published its delivery plan to tackle the backlogs (February 2022).

This report will examine whether the Department of Health & Social Care and NHSE&I have made a good start to tackling the elective care and cancer backlogs, focusing on:

  • design of national recovery plans;
  • implementation of the recovery plans, including the use of independent sector providers; and
  • early progress made in recovering services.