The need to wait for hospital treatment has been a feature of the NHS since it began.
When Labour came to power in 1997 total numbers waiting stood at 1.3 million, and the government announced a 'war on waiting'.
This paper begins with a description of the task the government faced and assesses the policy initiatives it has taken to address it. It also looks at what the government should do next.
The paper draws on previous studies by The King's Fund into waiting list policy and the ways in which individual trusts have responded to national targets.