A LEADING York GP hopes patients’ long waits for appointments, investigations and surgery following the pandemic are beginning to improve – but says there’s some way to go.

Professor Mike Holmes was writing in a column for The Press today as the UK nears the third anniversary of the first lockdown.

His comments came as it emerges that the York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals Trust cancelled fewer elective operations at the last minute in the three months to December than across the same time period the year before.

In addition, the 12 week waiting time for a routine GP appointment at Haxby and Wigginton in June 2022 had dropped to a seven week wait by December.

However across the country, the NHS England figures have shown that while the longest waiting times for patients to start hospital treatment has improved, the number of people waiting to receive treatment has increased from 7.2 million in December to 7.21 million in January.

Plus, waiting times for cancer patients people to receive their first treatment within two months of a GP referral has dropped to a record low.

Prof Holmes, GP Partner and Chief Executive Medical Officer of Haxby Group, said he was optimistic that things will improve.

He wrote: “As we approach the third anniversary of lock down there is a sense that the world has moved on.

“However it does perhaps allow us to reflect more on our lives and, hopefully, appreciate what being ‘back to normal’ means.

“As healthcare professionals, we’ve seen the impact on people’s health as patients have faced longer waits for appointments, investigations and surgery. I think this is beginning to improve but there remains some way to go.”

Across England, the ambulance and A&E waiting times in January stayed roughly the same as December, and the number of cancer patients receiving their first treatment within two months of a GP referral has dropped to a record low.

Some 4,590 patients were forced to wait more than 28 days to be treated following their operation being cancelled in the three months to December – up from 4,150 the previous quarter.

Of these, 50 were at York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals Trust – up from 40 the previous quarter.

Prof Holmes has said that all sectors of healthcare were thinking about how they can best engage with the public in order to get their views on how they can improve services.

He said that in January, he spoke to residents at a Poppleton Parish Council meeting about the challenges facing his GP practice in Poppleton, which was attended by 250 people.

He said: “The desire to communicate with local residents is present at all levels across the City of York in Health and Social Care.

“At present it feels like there are lots of difficult conversations to have although I am optimistic that out of that progress and improvement will emerge.

“We are seeing the system pull together to address some of the challenges we face – we are seeing both collaboration and innovation and that feels encouraging and really does bode well for the future.”

*Today’s column is on page 12.