A theory of consultant behaviour is summarized and used to generate three hypotheses on the interrelationship between the level of resources provided and the demand for hospital care. Routine hospital statistical data for General Surgery in Trent RHA provided a means of testing the hypotheses; no evidence was found to disprove them. It is suggested that a 1% increase in the number of consultants per 1000 population will lead to a 1% increase in the size of the waiting list. A measure of met demand such as the number of admissions per 1000 population was found to depend upon the number of available beds per 1000 population. Some possible policy implications for the management of waiting lists in the NHS are considered.