HUNDREDS of patients have waited a year for treatment at the trust which runs Colchester Hospital.

The number of patients left waiting 52 weeks, or more, for routine treatment at the East Suffolk and North Essex Trust in November rocketed to a record high for the month, figures reveal.

Patients referred for non-urgent elective care should start treatment within 18 weeks under NHS guidelines.

But NHS figures revealed 1,673 patients listed for elective operations or treatment at the trust at the end of November had been waiting for at least 52 weeks.

This was the highest figure for the month for the trust since comparable records began a decade ago.

In contrast, by the end of November the previous year, just four patients had faced such long delays.

Professor Neil Mortensen, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said the figures show the “calamitous impact” of Covid-19 on operation waiting times.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of the trust, said: “Our dedicated teams are still working incredibly hard in our hospitals and in the community as the NHS continues to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is inevitable as the challenges of the pandemic have persisted over the past 11 months and the number of coronavirus hospital admissions have increased, we have seen waiting times for elective operations and treatment increase too.

“We are sorry some people have waited longer than the target time of 18 weeks.

“We are doing everything we can to care for all our patients as safely and as quickly as we can, but we have to be realistic and accept that until the pandemic comes to a close there will be a backlog and some people will, unfortunately, be waiting longer than we would usually want them to.”

Another grim milestone was passed at the trust as of Tuesday with a total of 801 Covid patients having now died at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals.