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IPPR - Labour ‘backlog buster’ plan is a common-sense way to drive down waiting lists and improve productivity, says IPPR

Against the backdrop of record waiting lists in the NHS, and high levels of sickness across the UK economy, IPPR has welcomed the Labour Party’s commitment to make better use of the NHS at weekends for elective care, and to pool hospital waiting lists.

These ideas were first proposed by the think tank in its April 2023 report, Waiting for Prosperity. 

Chris Thomas, head of IPPR’s Commission on Health and Prosperity, said: 

“We're delighted that the Labour Party has adopted IPPR 's proposal of a weekend NHS service to tackle record long waiting lists and support early diagnosis. As we said in April in our 'Waiting for Prosperity' report, we need to go much further and faster in meeting the sheer scale of the NHS backlog in England. Making use of weekends is one of the best opportunities to get activity and productivity up, as has been shown in places like Bury and St Guys and St Thomas' where it's been trialled. 

"Getting waiting lists down can have a tremendous human benefit, but also an economic one. IPPR research shows getting waiting lists down more quickly would unlock tens of billions of pounds. This is a common-sense and credible policy that, if implemented, would support lives and livelihoods across our country." 

IPPR’s Waiting for Prosperity report is available here. Its analysis, undertaken in collaboration with LCP Health Analytics, found that:

  • Achieving the Elective Recovery Plan’s ambition would deliver total benefits worth at least £73 billion to the economy over five years 
  • It would also save £14 billion across government and households through lower spending on health, social care and informal care services 
  • Weekend elective care lists had proven effective where already used in England, including Bury 

Chris Thomas, head of Commission, and Dr Parth Patel, lead authors of Waiting for Prosperity, are available for interview 


  1. The Commission on Health and Prosperity is a landmark IPPR initiative exploring the case that a fairer country is a healthier country, and that a healthier country is a more prosperous one. It is a cross-party initiative and chaired by Dame Sally Davies and Lord Ara Darzi.
  2. Waiting for Prosperity, the report that modelled the economic benefits of lowering waiting lists and suggested how to achieve this, was published by the IPPR Commission in April at 
  3. IPPR (the Institute for Public Policy Research) is an independent charity working towards a fairer, greener, and more prosperous society. We are researchers, communicators, and policy experts creating tangible progressive change, and turning bold ideas into common sense realities. Working across the UK, IPPR, IPPR North, and IPPR Scotland are deeply connected to the people of our nations and regions, and the issues our communities face. We have helped shape national conversations and progressive policy change for more than 30 years. From making the early case for the minimum wage and tackling regional inequality, to proposing a windfall tax on energy companies, IPPR’s research and policy work has put forward practical solutions for the crises facing society.
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