THE amount of patients awaiting treatment at Barnsley Hospital has climbed again - despite NHS bosses vowing to ease a backlog which has now surpassed 22,000 people.

NHS England figures show 22,025 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at the end of October - up from 21,779 in September and 19,620 in October 2022.

Of those, 251 had been waiting for longer than a year.

The median waiting time from referral to treatment at Barnsley Hospital was 11 weeks at the end of October - the same as in September.

However, a health think-tank - Nuffield Trust - has warned the NHS is under ‘severe strain’ despite some progress in reducing the national backlog.

Jessica Morris, from the think-tank, said: “NHS staff got record numbers of patients starting treatment in October, which will have helped finally start to reverse month-on-month growth of the waiting list.

“While this is good news, it is hard to look past the huge waiting list that remains in place - some trusts now have more on their list.

“Overall, the elective waiting list is 370,000 people higher than it was when the Prime Minister made his pledge to cut long waits at the beginning of the year.

“The reality is that it will take time and a lot of hard work to sustain this momentum, particularly during the difficult winter months to come.”

At Barnsley Hospital, 3,258 patients were waiting for one of ten standard tests such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 80 had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Other figures from NHS England show that 66 out of 94 cancer patients urgently referred to the hospital in October received treatment within two months of their referral.

A month previously - when 91 patients were referred - 73 were treated within 62 days.

In October 2022, 68 out of 104 patients were treated within this period.

Hospital bosses have said that the Community Diagnostic Centre in the Glass Works is helping to cut down the waiting lists.

A spokesperson added: “The NHS and Barnsley Hospital are working hard to prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, maternity, and trauma, and ensure we prioritise patients who have waited the longest for elective care and cancer surgery.

“We continue to use clinical prioritisation when listing patients for treatment.

“Patients can help us by only using emergency services in genuine cases of need.

“We are working to improve our patient communications, including texts, and ask patients to attend appointments so we make best use of time for both patients and staff.”