The COVID-19 pandemic saw access to elective care reduce dramatically, and waiting lists grow. The reduced access was worse for some. While inequalities have been a longstanding challenge for the NHS, in many cases, pre-existing inequalities in access, experience and outcomes were further exacerbated by the pandemic.

To support elective care recovery, the 21/22 NHS Operational Planning Guidance laid out five priority areas for the NHS to focus its’ operational efforts on, one of which was to “restore elective care inclusively”. Systems were encouraged to use their local data to identify, improve understanding of, and take action to address healthcare inequalities.

As a result of the operational planning guidance, examples of interventions and programmes aimed at delivering inclusive elective care recovery began to emerge. The Healthcare Inequalities Improvement Team at NHS England asked the Strategy Unit to collect and collate some of these examples in a structured way.

In February-April 2023, we spoke to operational and clinical colleagues involved in interventions aimed at delivering inclusive elective care recovery across England. These case studies present accounts of what we heard.