More than 10,000 patients in Northampton have been on the operation waiting list for more than four months - in what a national health body believes paints a 'bleak picture' for the town.
The national body that overseas independent health providers say there is a 'clear commitment' in the NHS constitution for people to receive treatment for things like hip and knee replacements within 18 weeks.
But figures show that 15 per cent of patients in Northampton have been on the waiting list for longer.
In Northampton some 10,418 people on the latest list have waited more than 18 weeks for an operation through the NHS.
Of those, 2,992 people - six per cent - have been on it for 26 weeks or more.
David Hare, chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, said: “These figures paint a bleak picture of NHS patients’ ability to swiftly receive vital treatment such as hip and knee replacements.
“Despite there being a clear commitment in the NHS Constitution for patients to be treated within 18 weeks, thousands of often elderly and vulnerable people are being forced to wait in pain and discomfort for months on end.
“The new government has said it will take action to cut waiting times and what the people of Northampton now need to see is a clear plan, including using the spare capacity available in local independent hospitals which NHS patients have a legal right to choose to be treated in, free at the point of use.”
A spokeswoman for Northampton General Hospital (NGH) stressed that the figures related to people who lived in Northampton, not just those who use the town's main hospital.
She said: “We apologise for any delay that patients experience when being referred to us for treatment. The demand for health services, particularly urgent and emergency care, continues to grow and this does impact on our non-urgent operations and treatments. We would prefer not to delay treatment, but equally, it is important that we clinically prioritise, treat people safely and provide high-quality care for those with the greatest clinical need.
“In May 2019 we saw 80.7% of patients within 18 weeks of referral. Although currently, we are below our target we have seen a steady increase in our performance over the last 3 months, and are working hard to improve this performance further. In June 2019 we saw our performance increase by almost 2%.
“Half of those patients seen in May were waiting for less than 9 weeks and we are still working to increase our performance. To help to reduce this waiting time we are putting on additional clinics and where possible using locum doctors to help us to see patients sooner.”