Tens of thousands of patients were waiting for routine treatment at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in February, figures show.

The figures come as a health think tank warns waiting lists will 'continue to swell' under pressures on the NHS.

NHS England figures show 43,401 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust at the end of February – up slightly from 43,110 in January, and 27,274 in February 2022.

Of those, 2,460 (6%) had been waiting for longer than a year.

The median waiting time from referral at an NHS Trust to treatment at the Royal Surrey County Hospital was 19 weeks at the end of February – the same as in January.

Nationally, 7.2 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of February.

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.

"Today’s 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."

"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," she added.

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

At the Royal Surrey County Hospital, 8,475 patients were waiting for one of 11 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 1,167 (14%) had been waiting for at least six weeks.

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," he added.

Other figures from NHS England show that of 70 patients urgently referred by the NHS who were treated at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in February, 53 were receiving cancer treatment within two months of their referral.

A month previously – when 95 patients were referred – 66 were treated within 62 days.

In February 2022, 66 patients were treated within this period, out of 82 that were referred.

NHS national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, 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 continued: “Today’s data shows 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.