Published Work

The war on waiting for hospital treatment : what has Labour achieved and what challenges remain?

Public Deposited
Place of publication
  • London : King's Fund
Publication date
  • 2005
  • xvii, 72p.
  • The need to wait for health care has been a feature of the NHS since its inception. When Labour came to power in 1997, total numbers of patients waiting stood at 1.3 million: the highest since the NHS began in 1948. The government announced its 'war on waiting' and pledged to reduce the overall number of people on the waiting list and shorten waiting times. This paper traces three main phases of this key area of health policy: 1997-2000 when Labour focused on reducing the number of people waiting; 2000-2004 when the focus was on reducing waiting times for both outpatient and inpatient treatment , accompanied by a wide-ranging set of policies to help transform the way elective care was provided; and 2005-2008 and beyond when a new target stated that by 2008 no patient should wait longer than 18 weeks from referral by a GP to hospital treatment. This paper concludes that the government's determination to reduce waiting times has resulted in significant improvements. It calls for greater clarity about the policy's overall strategy and trade-offs, and a better analysis of the underlying causes of waiting. [SMD]
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