The number of people waiting for treatment at the Countess of Chester Hospital is at its highest level in nine years.
Research has revealed that there were 17,662 people waiting for treatment at the trust at the end of April, the highest number since 38,052 people were waiting in January 2009.
The number of people on the waiting list at the trust has jumped by 21.7% compared to last April, when 14,518 people were waiting.
At the end of April, 88.2% of patients waiting for treatment had been on the list for less than 18 weeks, below the target of 92%.
This meant 2,085 patients were waiting longer than the target time, with five patients having spent more than a year on the waiting list.
Across England, NHS waiting lists have topped 4m for the first time in more than a decade.
As the numbers on the waiting list continue to grow, the number waiting longer than the target time of 18 weeks passed 500,000 for the first time in nearly a decade - the last time so many people were waiting that long was August 2008, when 521,000 had been waiting more than 18 weeks.
The number of people waiting to start treatment at the end of April was 4.01m, a rise from 3.84m at the end of March, and the waiting list has increased by 6.2% when compared to a year earlier.
The last time so many people were waiting for treatment was in September 2007, when there were 4.00m on the lists.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said patients waiting for planned operations are paying the price for seeing the NHS through one of the
worst winters in recent memory, following the decision in January to delay tens of thousands of operations as the health and social care
system struggled to cope with the pressures of a colder than average winter.
RCN chief executive Janet Davies said: “Cancelling non-urgent care may have helped the NHS fight through one of the worst winters in
recent memory, but patients in need of elective surgery should not have to pay the price for chronic staff shortages and years of
“Half a million people have waited more than 18 weeks for planned care, the highest figure in 10 years. And the number waiting more than
a year is approaching 3,000. That is truly shameful. For these people, the Prime Minister’s promise of more NHS funding cannot come soon
“But more funding is only half the battle. Addressing the 40,000 nurse vacancies in England alone is not just a question of money, but
requires long-term workforce planning and a determined focus on improving recruitment and retention.”
At the end of April 2018, of those waiting, 87.5% had been waiting for 18 weeks or less, a fall from 89.9% in April 2017. The government’s
target is that 92% or higher should have been waiting less than 18 weeks.
While the proportion waiting less than 18 weeks has improved since the end of March, when it was 87.2%, it’s still the second lowest
performance since March 2009.
The number of people waiting longer than a year for treatment rose to 2,882 at the end of April, up from 2,755 a month before and the
highest number since 2,959 were waiting in July 2012.
Ian Eardley, Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons and Consultant Urologist, said: “It is very worrying that there are now half a million patients waiting for planned hospital treatment.
"Disappointingly, and despite the efforts of frontline staff, NHS waiting lists have now ballooned to levels that we have not seen since 2008. These patients are people who have been diagnosed with a condition that requires hospital treatment by a consultant doctor and a high proportion of them will be for operations, such as a hip or knee replacement.
“We’re now in June and yet it remains unclear how the NHS plans to catch up with the planned surgery backlog caused by the winter
“If patients have to wait excessively long for surgery there is a risk their condition will deteriorate and the treatment will be less
"It is also very distressing - and debilitating for someone who is living with a painful condition - to have to wait a long time for treatment.”
However, Lorraine Burnett, chief operating officer at the Countess of Chester Hospital, said that on average, the Couness loses 800 new and 2,000 follow-up appointments a month to patients who do not attend.
It means that with every new appointment costing an average of £160 and follow-ups costing an average of £78, missed appointments at the hospital can cost up to £284,000 a month.
She said: “Many of our patients require increasingly complex care and that allied to the rising demand for services across the entire health and social care system has had a knock on effect on our patient waiting lists this year.
"We are implementing a number of measures to ensure we treat as many people as we can, as quickly as we can, with a particular focus on reducing the number of patients waiting over 40 weeks for treatment.
“We have also implemented a new appointment reminder service in a bid to reduce our do not attend rates which not only cost the trust thousands of pounds each month but also contribute to the length of waiting time for patients.
"If you cannot attend your appointment please let us know so that someone else can benefit and we can make sure it does not go to waste," she added.
"We have already made significant strides in reducing our DNAs with more appointments being put back into the system for patients to be seen at the Countess.”