PATIENTS were waiting an average of 19 weeks for routine hospital treatment in Worcestershire at the start of the year, latest figures show.

NHS England figures show the median waiting time for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was 19 weeks at the end of January – the same wait as in December.

This was more than the average 16-week wait a year previously.

There were 56,695 patients on the waiting list in January – down from 57,623 in December, but an increase on 42,107 in January 2021.

Of those, 6,025 had been waiting for longer than two years.

Nationally, 6.1 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of January.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid recently announced NHS reforms, which include paying for patients who have been waiting the longest to travel to less busy hospitals or private facilities for care.

Separate figures show 1.5 million patients in England were waiting for a key diagnostic test in January – a rise on 1.4 million in December.

At Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust, 10,719 patients were waiting for one of 15 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 4,879 – 46 per cent – had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Other figures show cancer patients at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust are not being seen quickly enough.

The NHS states 85 per cent of cancer patients urgently referred by a GP should start treatment within 62 days.

But NHS England data shows just 56 per cent of patients received cancer treatment within two months of an urgent referral in Worcestershire in January.

That was up from 55 per cent in December, but down from 73 per cent in January 2021 last year.

The Department of Health and Social Care said its plan to tackle the Covid-19 backlog is backed by a multi-billion pound investment over the next three years, and it will also publish a 10-Year Plan on cancer.