More than 1,500 patients at Royal Bolton have been waiting longer than a year for treatment, as the NHS deals with a huge post-pandemic backlog.

In total, 32,659 people were waiting for non-urgent operations or treatment as of March, an increase of around 1,000 compared to the year before.

This comes amid ongoing concerns about how hard-pressed frontline staff have been to deal with the mounting pressures.

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust chief operating officer, Rae Wheatcroft, said: “We’d like to thank people for their patience as we deal with the backlog, which our staff ae doing a fantastic job to bring down through their hard work.

“We know that treatment for each of our patients is incredibly important to them and would like to reassure them that we are doing everything we can to treat them as quickly as we can possibly can.”

The NHS England Data figures also showed that 5,444 patients at Royal Bolton were waiting for one of 13 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy.

Of them, 1,802, coming to around 33 per cent had been waiting for at least six weeks.

But the trust had made some progress with waiting times overall, with the median waiting time have gone down from 12 weeks in February to 11 weeks in March.

Across the country 6.4m people were waiting to start treatment at the end of March, the highest number since records began in 2007.

Society for Acute Medicine president Dr Tim Cooksley said: “The latest set of performance data shows that the new “normal” is at an unacceptably poor level for both patients and staff.

“Pressures are at unsustainable levels and, at months where NHS teams hope for a quieter period, worse performance and standards are dominating the horizon."

He added: “This is an emergency which needs recognition, action and support on an urgent basis; it cannot afford to join the waiting list being endured by so many patients.”

In response The Department of Health and Social Care says it has provided a record £36billion over the next three years to tackle the Covid backlog in hospitals across the UK.