HOSPITAL waiting lists for treatment in Bury continue to rocket with 79 per cent more patients experiencing delays than since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the NHS Constitution, no patient should wait longer than a year to start treatment.

However, in January, 2022 there were 1,248 Bury patients with such waits. Of these, 120 people had waited more than two years to be seen  – as

Bury health chiefs expressed fears that it could take up to eight years to clear the backlog in treatment.

When a patient is referred to a consultant-led team of a secondary care provider, they are added to a planned care waiting list with the entry referred to as an "incomplete pathway".

The pathway will generally be ended either once the patient receives the awaited treatment or it is confirmed that treatment is not required.

In April 2020, essentially the start of the pandemic, there were 14,297 incomplete pathways for Bury patients against a target of no more than 15,800.

The target has been revised twice since that time.

Firstly, in April 2021 the target was for the waiting list size to stabilise at the March 2021 position (18,853 pathways) and then at the September 2021 position (23,993 pathways).

But by the time of the latest published figure in December 2021 the waiting list for Bury patients had increased to 25,542.

This is 6.5 per cent above the current target and reflects an increase of 79 per cent when compared to April 2020.

The figures were published in a report to Bury Council’s health scrutiny committee, authored by Will Blandamer, executive director of strategic commissioning for the borough.

Last month, NHS England published a delivery plan for tackling the Covid-19 elective care backlog.

It sets the ambition of 104+ week waits to be eliminated by July 2022; 78+ week waits by April 2023; 65+ week waits by March 2024 and waits of more than a year to be ended by March 2025.

By January this year in Bury, 227 patients had waiting more than a year for gynaecology treatment, 201 for trauma and orthopaedic and 202 for general surgery.

20 patients had waited more than two years for urology surgery. In the report, Mr Blandamer set out the huge task in the borough to deal with the backlog.

He said: “Some Greater Manchester analysis previously indicated that it could take up to eight years to clear the elective backlog that has grown significantly since the pandemic commenced.

“A major focus of operational planning is therefore to increase elective capacity beyond the level seen in 2019-20. The ambition for 2022-23 is for elective activity to reach 110 per cent of the 2019-20 level with a year-on-year increase planned for thereafter.

“The scale of the problem means that to do nothing is not an option.

"Therefore, plans for the next financial year and beyond are focused on increasing the amount of elective activity undertaken, with a particular focus on treating those waiting the longest and addressing health inequalities, and transforming the way that outpatient care is delivered.”