Dorset County Hospital has seen the number of patients facing the longest waits for treatment drop by four fifths since February, new figures show.

As part of an effort to clear the backlog caused by the coronavirus pandemic, NHS England committed in February to ending waits of more than two years, except in cases where the patient wishes to delay their treatment.

New figures show there were 41 patients waiting this long for routine treatment at Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust as of July 3 – the latest available data – down 81% from 211 at the end of February.

Despite the fall in extremely long waits, the latest available data shows 332,000 patients across England had been on treatment waiting lists for longer than a year as of May – including 1,587 patients at Dorset County Hospital.’

Dorset County Hospital’s Chief Operating Officer Anita Thomas said: “Our teams have been working incredibly hard to reduce waiting times, even when new waves of COVID have required a short change of focus for safety reasons. It’s thanks to this continued effort from our dedicated staff that we are now heading in the right direction and seeing ongoing reductions in waiting times for our patients.

“The multi-agency approach with our partners at the Outpatient Assessment Centre in South Walks House has proved extremely successful, with high volume clinics, non-surgical interventions, and support to stay healthy while awaiting surgery helping a great number of people.

“Despite these successes, we are certainly not complacent and we are committed to bringing down waits even further through clinically led decisions around prioritising those who need us most urgently.”