Tony Blair celebrated his first year in office and stepped up action on hospital waiting lists

Prime Minister Tony Blair marked his first year in office last week by stepping up action on hospital waiting lists, which he said were still unacceptably high.

He appointed Peter Homa, chief executive of Leicester Royal Infirmary trust, as a list buster to head a new national team to spearhead a drive to cut waiting lists by ensuring trusts and health authorities copy best practice.

The new team is intended to complement the work of Stephen Day, West Midland’s regional director, appointed last November to lead a national waiting list action team. That initiative included piloting new ways of cutting waiting lists, with eight regional task forces charged with delivering local solutions and spreading best practice.

Mr Homa is expected to work at the operational front line, while Mr Day is regarded as having a strategic overview.

Mr Homa has yet to appoint the members of the new team, and it is not yet clear how it will work with the regional task forces.

The new team is charged with working with HAs and trusts to find new ways of tackling waiting lists, including setting up pilot schemes so that patients needing day surgery can book the date of their operation. The team will also share good practice across the NHS.