YORK and Scarborough hospitals have begun the fightback against huge waiting lists for treatment which have built up during the Covid pandemic.

York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it had been working hard to reschedule appointments and operations, and revealed that the number of patients who have had to wait more than a year for treatment has fallen by 42 per cent since February.

However, a spokesperson admitted that the ongoing pandemic - and the additional infection prevention measures in place to keep patients safe - did have an impact on the trust’s capacity to deliver services in the way it had previously.

“Subsequently waiting times are longer than we would normally expect,” they said. “However, we have already made significant progress.”

Figures revealed in April that thousands of patients had been waiting more than a year for non urgent treatment at York Hospital.

Data showed that 2,473 people had been waiting for more than 52 weeks for treatment and 528 patients had waited for more than a year and a half.

In the first wave of the pandemic, all but the most urgent procedures were postponed at the hospital.

In January, when the number of Covid patients at the hospital trust hit a peak of more than 240, routine surgery was put on hold and some wards were converted to treat Covid patients.

The trust’s fightback against waiting lists reflects an announcement by the NHS that the number of people waiting longer than 18 and 52 weeks to begin non-urgent treatment has fallen significantly nationwide, despite record numbers of people attending A&E in June.

An NHS spokesperson said patients waiting longer than 18 weeks for elective care dropped by more than 80,000 while those waiting more than a year fell by 50,000 for the second month in a row.

“The NHS is investing an additional £1 billion in extra ops and treatments to restore services and cut backlogs that have built up while 405,000 people needed hospital treatment for Covid,” they said.

“Some £160 million is being ploughed into test sites trialling new ways of working such as one stop diagnostic shops which have increased the number of scans performed by 25 per cent in Lancashire.”

They revealed that attendances at A&E in June were up 53 per cent on the same month last year and 2.4 per cent on June 2019, before the pandemic began.

They said there were also a record number of attendances at major departments, with July and August set to follow suit.

NHS Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis said: “Despite the huge disruption we have seen to care caused by the pandemic and the more than 405,000 Covid patients in our hospitals over the last 15 months, it is reassuring to see in today’s figures significant reductions in waits for routine operations, and for the first time this year, a reduction in the number of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment. All the while, NHS staff have dealt with rising numbers of A&E attendances.”