More than 40,000 patients waiting for routine treatment as Wigan's hospital staff continue to work through backlog
Tens of thousands of patients were waiting for routine treatment at Wigan’s hospitals, figures show.
The Nuffield Trust said there would not be any let up for the NHS in tackling the backlog caused by the pandemic and the "broken and overstretched care system" continues to hinder staff.
NHS England figures show 41,614 patients waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) at the end of June – down from 41,723 in May, but an increase on 32,552 in June 2021.
Of those, 1,621 (four per cent) had been waiting for longer than a year.
The median waiting time from referral to treatment at WWL was 14 weeks in June – the same as in May.
Jessica Morris, fellow at the Nuffield Trust, said the NHS had success in clearing two-year waits, but this will "not provide any let up for NHS staff".
She said: "The NHS may have overcome the first hurdle, but as new figures show the mountain to climb to clear the total waiting list keeps getting bigger.
"Staffing shortages and ongoing pressure from Covid-19, and a broken and overstretched care system, continue to slow down how quickly the NHS can work through this major backlog."
Separate figures show 1.6m patients in England were waiting for a key diagnostic test in June – the same as in May.
At WWL, 8,176 patients were waiting for one of 12 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy. Of them, 1,915 (23 per cent) had been waiting for at least six weeks.
Mary Fleming, WWL’s deputy chief executive, praised the “hard work and dedication” of staff in tackling waiting lists, with the trust ahead of its target to clear the backlog of patients waiting 78 weeks or more before March 2023.
She said: “We recognise that there are patients still waiting for treatment, and we are doing everything we can to ensure those patients are seen as soon as possible, with the most urgent cases being prioritised. If, for any reason, a patient is no longer able to attend an appointment, we would appreciate it if they could notify us as soon as possible, so that their appointment time can be given to other patients to continue to help us address our waiting lists.
“We are pleased to report that some of our waiting lists have shown dramatic improvement in some areas for example, six-week diagnostic waiting lists. There has been an 80 per cent reduction in patients waiting more than six weeks for non-obstetric ultrasound scans within the last year, due to our investment and expansion of this service into community and GP venues.”
She said the trust was investing in an extra CT scanner and ultrasound room at Wrightington Hospital operating in evenings and weekends, plus a community diagnostic centre at Leigh Infirmary.
Other figures from NHS England show that of 78 patients urgently referred to WWL in June, 59 received cancer treatment within two months.
A month previously 81 patients were referred, while 63 were treated within 62 days.
The Department of Health and Social Care said it was making progress in "busting the Covid backlogs" and has more than 90 community diagnostic centres.