Patients waiting more than a year for treatment could cost the NHS in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire more than £100,000 a month.

Despite the clinical commissioning group’s (CCG) zero-tolerance approach, as of February there were 36 patients breaching the 52-week standard. 

The body says it expects cut the number to zero by September, although it could rack up a bill in the meantime.

As of April the CCG now faces a monthly fine of £5,000 per patient, split equally with the relevant provider.

The 36 patients in February would have cost them £90,000 each, although the figures for last month have not yet been confirmed.

A report to the CCG’s governing body meeting last week said: “Patients waiting over 52 weeks for planned treatment worsened in February, increasing from 25 to 36 and the trajectory of seven was not achieved."

The delayed treatments are mostly orthopaedic in nature.

The highest number of 52-week waits was at Southmead Hospital, run by the North Bristol Trust (NBT).

A CCG spokesperson said: “Southmead Hospital is the largest orthopaedic centre in the region and undertakes a significant amount of specialist orthopaedic surgery, which means that certain treatments can only be performed by NBT staff with specialist skills and facilities available.

“Patients may choose to have their treatment there for this reason, despite the long waits.

“Reducing 52-week waits to zero remains our focus and we will continue to work with partners to build on the good progress made to achieve this standard.

“As part of our continuing effort to drive down waiting times, we have established a locality working group for trauma and orthopaedic recovery.

“The direction from this group will help local healthcare organisations to use collective resources to provide earlier treatment and reduce waiting times.

“We have also developed a plan with providers to reduce 52-week waits not related to patient choice to zero by the end of September 2019.”