THERE are more than 43,000 patients on waiting lists for hospital treatment in Somerset, according to the latest figures up to September 2021.

On the list for Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, there are 31,705 waiting for NHS care.

And on the list at Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, there are 11,473 people waiting for treatment.

The trusts say NHS and social care services 'continue to be very busy' and both Yeovil and Taunton hospitals are currently full with emergency patients.

They have said they are 'very sorry' for the lengthy waiting lists.

Somerset Labour has said these lists are 'too long and getting longer'.

Cllr Leigh Redman, leader of the Labour group at Somerset County Council, said: “Our amazing NHS staff support us every day during and following the pandemic, but waiting lists in the two NHS trusts that cover Somerset are too long and getting longer.

"That’s not just a statistic – it’s local people living with real pain, and risk longer than they should.

“This isn’t just about Covid – key targets haven’t been met across the country for years.

"From waiting lists to A&E to getting an appointment with your local GP, for local people our health service is going backwards.”

The latest figures in Somerset show an increase of 40 per cent more patients in comparison to last year, when there were just 30,390 patients on waiting lists.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic the number of people on our waiting lists has grown significantly," added Mathew Bryant, chief operating officer (hospital services) at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and Yeovil Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

"While we have continued to provide the most urgent care at all times, there has been a significant impact on the length of time many of our patients are having to wait and we are very sorry for this.

"NHS and social care services in Somerset continue to be very busy and all our teams are working hard to ensure we continue to provide safe and compassionate care.

"We are very full with emergency patients at both Musgrove Park and Yeovil Hospitals, and there are some delays to discharge due to the pressures being faced at the moment within social care.

"The impact of these pressures is the continued postponement of some patients’ procedures – a decision we never take lightly.

"We know how important the care we provide for patients is, and we are working hard to see people and reduce the length of time they are waiting.

"We have some new developments in Somerset that will support this, including the opening of the new Rutherford Diagnostic Centre in Taunton last month, additional diagnostic capacity in Yeovil Hospital and a new operating theatre on the Musgrove Park Hospital site that is focused on eye surgery.

"Colleagues are also working hard to provide additional weekend capacity in a number of surgical specialties."

In England, there are more than 5.8million patients on waiting lists for NHS care. The standard of 92 per cent of people seen within 18 weeks of a referral has not been met since 2016.

Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: “We’ve heard serious warnings from hospital chiefs about the unsustainable pressure the NHS is under.

"These figures are confirmation of the dangerously lengthy waiting times patients are forced to endure and the scale of pressure on overwhelmed A&Es.

“The coming winter weeks are set to be the most challenging in history for the NHS.

"It’s now urgent ministers fix the stalling vaccination programme, resolve the immediate crisis in social care and bring forward a long term plan to recruit the health care staff our NHS desperately needs, which Rishi Sunak has failed to provide despite imposing a punishing tax rise on working people.”