Tens of thousands of patients were waiting for routine treatment at Mersey and West Lancashire Hospitals Trust in April, new figures show.

With the overall NHS waiting list in England growing for the first time in seven months, the Royal College of Nursing said “there will be no place to hide for the next government” when it comes to bringing the figures down. 

NHS England figures show 80,569 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Mersey and West Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust at the end of April – up from 79,768 in March, and 48,268 in April 2023 in the trust's two predecessors.

Of those, 2,551 (3%) had been waiting for longer than a year.

The median waiting time from referral at an NHS Trust to treatment at Mersey and West Lancashire Hospitals Trust was 13 weeks at the end of April – the same as in March.

Nationally, 7.57 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of April. This was up slightly from 7.54 million at the end of March and the first time the NHS waiting list has risen in seven months.

Patricia Marquis, executive director of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Excuses, vague promises and unambitious levels of investment will not get patients the care they need.

“Politicians with their eyes on Number 10 need to wake up to that fact.”

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “Trust leaders and their teams are working flat out to ensure no patient waits longer than they need to receive care, but this increasingly feels like an uphill battle.”

Separate figures show 1.6 million patients in England were waiting for a key diagnostic test in April – the same as in March.

At Mersey and West Lancashire Hospitals Trust, 13,218 patients were waiting for one of 13 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 1,457 (11%) had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Other figures show cancer patients at Mersey and West Lancashire Hospitals Trust are not being seen quickly enough.

The NHS states 85% of cancer patients with an urgent referral should start treatment within 62 days.

But NHS England data shows just 80% of cancer patients urgently referred to Mersey and West Lancashire Hospitals Trust in April began treatment within two months of their referral.

That was down from both 82% in March, and 84% in April 2023.

Mairaid McMahon, policy manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Despite the tireless efforts of NHS staff, people with cancer are being failed by a healthcare system that is not being given the resources it needs to support them.

She added a long-term strategy for the cancer care system must be prioritised, “so that diagnosis is made early, treatment starts quickly, and support is on hand”.

During a Sky News interview on Wednesday, the Prime Minister admitted: “We’ve not made as much progress on cutting waiting lists as I would have liked.”

Daisy Cooper, health spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, called on Mr Sunak “to apologise to the public for his failure to get NHS waiting lists down instead of ducking responsibility”.

Sir Keir Starmer has vowed a Labour government would bring down waiting lists by creating 40,000 new appointments per week.