Waiting times for routine treatment and operations at Bradford’s hospitals are not “where we’d like to be”, health chiefs have revealed.

Newly-released figures from NHS England show more than 50,000 patients were on NHS waiting lists at Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust (BTHFT) and Airedale NHS Foundation Trust (ANFT) this February. 

The stark figures paint a picture of an NHS under pressure amid strike action and the lingering backlog from the pandemic.

Figures show 37,782 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at BTHFT at the end of Feburary - marking a rise from 35,698 in January and 33,918 in February 2022.

Of these, 525 people had been waiting for longer than a year.

Meanwhile at Airedale, 14,050 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at the end of February – up slightly from 13,913 in January, and 10,307 in February 2022.

Of these patients, 502 had been waiting for longer than a year.

Foluke Ajayi, chief executive of ANFT and Professor Mel Pickup, chief executive at BTHFT said: “These figures reflect the exceptionally challenging winter, the ongoing industrial action in the NHS and the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our services. 

“This is not where we’d like to be for our patients and we are sorry that it isn’t a better position. 

"However, we are focused on improving our waiting times and are making real progress.”

Separate figures show 1.6 million patients in England were waiting for a key diagnostic test in February – the same as in January.

Around 11,987 patients at BTHFT were waiting for one of 13 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy.

The data stated 31 per cent had been waiting for at least six weeks.

For Airedale, figures showed 4,903 patients were waiting for one of these tests while 863 patients had been waiting for at least six weeks.

It comes as one think tank warned the overall waiting list for the NHS - which currently stands at 7.2 million people - will “continue to swell”.

Saoirse Mallorie, senior analyst at The King’s Fund think tank, said: "In their elective recovery plan, Ministers set the NHS an ambitious target to eradicate 18-month waits for planned hospital care by April 2023."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

She said the figures "show that huge strides have been made towards that goal, bringing down the number of 18-month waits from 69,300 to 29,800 in a year" and added: "However, patients are still facing unacceptably long waits and we can expect to see the overall waiting list, which currently stands at 7.2 million people, continue to swell as the NHS grapples with sustained pressures.”

Dr Tim Cooksley, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “We are heading for extremely troubled times ahead in urgent and emergency care.

“Overcrowding in emergency departments and acute medical units means many patients are still not receiving timely and high-quality patient care."

“It reflects the day-to-day experience of teams delivering acute medical care in emergency departments, often in corridors and other unsuitable environments, rather than in appropriate wards.”

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “The last few months have been demanding for the NHS as record numbers of patients have come forward for care on top of hugely disruptive strike action."

He added: “Demand on services is not relenting with A&E attendances and ambulance calls outs in March recorded at the highest level so far this year – even higher than a very busy January."

He added there were positive signs for the NHS, particularly in reducing the longest waiting times.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Cutting waiting lists is one of the Government’s top five priorities and the NHS successfully met the first target in our plan to virtually eliminate waits of over two years and has cut 18-month waits by over 50 per cent in a year.

“NHS trusts are using innovative surgical hubs and surgical robotic systems to help drive up the number of operations and improve outcomes for patients.

"We have also opened 100 community diagnostic centres, with over 3.6 million tests, checks and scans have been carried out since July 2021.”