NHS bosses in England are urging hospitals to offer staff more overtime and tempt retired employees back, to help tackle waiting lists.
A letter sent by NHS England said tackling the backlog that had grown during the pandemic would require a “number of high impact actions”.
And many hospitals were already taking innovative approaches to the issue.
More than six million people are on waiting lists for treatment such as knee and hip surgery.
NHS England national clinical director of elective care Stella Vig said NHS staff had, in the past two months, almost halved the number waiting more than two years.
“We know there is still a long way to go,” she said.
“Our staff are our greatest asset in tackling the Covid backlog.
“It is essential we continue to support our colleagues, harness their collective skill and draw on their ideas to improve things for patients.”
According to the General Medical Council, 21,000 doctors are due to retire in September.
And part of the plan would be to tempt some of those back by offering part-time opportunities to:
Other measures recommended by NHS England are:
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