A RECORD number of patients were waiting for routine treatment at University Hospitals Dorset Trust in June, figures show.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned that waiting lists across England will keep rising, despite the number of patients waiting for treatment reaching a new national record.

NHS Digital figures show 49,080 patients were waiting for elective operations or treatment at University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust at the end of June – up from 48,759 at the end of May.

This was also 28 per cent more than a year previously, and the highest figure for the month of June since comparable records began in 2011.

Mark Mould, chief operating officer of UHD, said: “Last year our hospitals had to respond to the rise of Covid-19 and completely redesign our services and estate across our hospitals. This meant we had to, very reluctantly, cancel many appointments.

"With all the social distancing guidelines, our hospitals are not going to be able to tackle the subsequent rise in our waiting lists so we needed to “think big” to deal with the problem, as we know what an effect this can have on the patients waiting and their families."

As previously reported, UHD will now be using a space in Beales to see more patients, more quickly and bring down waiting times.

The number of people on waiting lists across England has risen to 5.45 million – the highest total for any month since records began in August 2007.

Around seven million people who might have needed care during the pandemic are estimated to have stayed away and as some of them come forward to the NHS, there will be further increases in waiting lists, he said.

Recent modelling from the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned the NHS waiting list could rise to 14 million by autumn next year.

NHS rules state that patients referred for non-urgent consultant-led elective care should start treatment within 18 weeks.

The figures show the number of patients waiting longer than 18 weeks for care has dropped by almost 25,000.

At UHD, 16,846 patients listed for routine treatment at the end of June had been waiting this long – 34 per cent of all those on the list.

This was down from 17,935 (37 per cent) waiting at least 18 weeks at the end of May.

There were also 3,730 patients waiting at least a year for treatment in the most recent month's data.