SOUTHAMPTON'S biggest hospital has said the "strain" of the pandemic is still being felt as thousands of patients wait around 12 weeks for treatment.

Patients waited an average of 12 weeks for routine treatment at Southampton University Hospital in January, figures have shown.

It comes as a hospital boss has said the effect of the pandemic is "still being felt across the hospital".

NHS England figures show the median waiting time for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust was 12 weeks at the end of January – the same wait as in December.

There were 44,541 patients on the waiting list in January – down from 44,728 in December, but an increase on 35,698 in January 2021.

Of those, 2,170 had been waiting one year for treatment and 150 patients had been waiting two years.

Joe Teape, chief operating officer at University Hospital Southampton explained that the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic is still being felt across all hospital Trusts in England, adding that UHS is "not alone in the continued challenges it faces".

"The strain on our services and workforce continue and it will take some time before that eases," he said.

"So while we now look towards our recovery we are still having to make difficult decisions as we prioritise patients based on clinical need."

At UHS, 10,421 patients were waiting for one of 15 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 2,559 had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Joe Teape added: "Even with a national elective recovery plan in place, it will take considerable time to fully recover to pre-pandemic waiting times for patients, but we have introduced many measures to add additional capacity over the past year.

“This includes a new 27-bed ward, four new theatres and a new ophthalmology outpatients department, as well as running extra ‘Super Saturday/Sunday’ outpatient clinics and partnership working with colleagues across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to utilise our resources as efficiently as possible.

“We are also using technology to help patients have more control of their healthcare, such as through online platform My Medical Record, and delivering more virtual clinics (telephone and video) than ever before to help us reduce backlogs.”