Tens of thousands of patients were waiting for routine treatment at the Wye Valley Trust in September, figures show.

One organisation has suggested winter pressures on the NHS are already kicking in.

NHS England figures show 23,522 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Wye Valley NHS Trust at the end of September – down slightly from 23,571 in August, but an increase on 20,112 in September 2022.

Of those, 1,641 (7%) had been waiting for longer than a year.

The median waiting time from referral at an NHS Trust to treatment at the Wye Valley Trust was 15 weeks at the end of September – up from 14 weeks in August.

Nationally, 7.7 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of September.

Professor Vivien Lees, from the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: “Winter pressures have already started to affect the system.

“We are concerned that with increased demand, record staff vacancies and industrial action, this will all continue to hold back recovery efforts.”

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

At the Wye Valley Trust, 4,235 patients were waiting for one of 13 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 1,176 (28%) had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Other figures from NHS England show that of 58 patients urgently referred by the NHS who were treated at the Wye Valley Trust in September, 37 were receiving cancer treatment within two months of their referral.

A month previously – when 81 patients were referred – 57 were treated within 62 days.

In September 2022, 51 patients were treated within this period, out of 77 that were referred.

Recent projections by the Health Foundation suggest waiting lists will top eight million patients next year, regardless of whether industrial action continues this winter.

Strikes by health workers have been blamed by politicians for contributing to these waiting lists – but the charity's analysis suggests they are responsible for just 3% of the current waiting list.

Despite the significant challenges faced by the NHS, the Health Foundation said it was possible to clear the backlog – although it will require "sustained focus, policy action and investment".

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said the NHS was making progress despite pressures on the service, such as industrial action.

He said: "It is important to recognise the incredible efforts of staff who are seeing and treating many more people than pre-pandemic – delivering record numbers of diagnostic tests and checks, treating more people for cancer at an earlier stage, and completing thousands more routine procedures."

He urged members of the public to get flu and coronavirus vaccinations if they are eligible.