Having worked at a large teaching hospital for some years, my best tip for clearing waiting lists is to ensure that all patients who have waited nine months positively identify that they still wish to come in. In pre-contracting days this cleared nearly half an 8,000-strong waiting list, and ensured consultants did not inflate their private practice by quoting long waiting times to hapless patients.

We also discovered that operating theatre time in one specialty was only 52 per cent, while its waiting list ran over 12 months. A suitable number of operations per list was suggested, which increased utilisation to 80 per cent, still leaving 20 per cent of time for emergency and private patient operations.