New data has revealed that over five hundred patients have been waiting for more than a year for non-emergency surgery at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Pearse Butler, chairman of the board for Blackpool Victoria Hospital, admitted there was a massive backlog as it had been ‘effectively operating for four months as an emergency hospital’ due to the Coronavirus pandemic. There are now plans in place to double theatres for non-emergencies from three to six.

The breast cancer screening programme will resume this month. But there are deep concerns that only about 75% of cancer patients had started treatment within the target time of 62 days following urgent referrals. Nearly 80 patients had waited more than 104 days.

The hospital board said it planned to draw on the private health sector to tackle waiting times.

Berenice Groves, executive director of operations at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘We are seeing on average around 14 to 20 patients a day being booked in on appointments. We will see that start to increase.’

The Hospital Board said that more patients were also spending shorter periods in hospital as they could now be discharged at weekends rather than having to remain in wards until Monday.