Tens of thousands of patients were waiting for routine treatment at Oxford University Hospitals Trust in October, figures show.

A health think tank warns the NHS is under "severe strain" despite some progress in reducing the national backlog.

NHS England figures show 80,069 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at the end of October – up from 79,111 in September, and 69,691 in October 2022.

READ MORE: Country pub hygiene rating drops from one to zero in latest inspection 

Of those, 3,301 (four per cent) had been waiting for longer than a year.

The median waiting time from referral at an NHS Trust to treatment at Oxford University Hospitals Trust was 14 weeks at the end of October – the same as in September.

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

Nuffield Trust fellow Jessica Morris said: “The slight fall in the number of people waiting for routine NHS treatment is welcome progress. NHS staff got record numbers of patients starting treatment in October, which will have helped finally start to reverse month on month growth of the waiting list.

"While this is good news, it is hard to look past the huge waiting list that remains in place. This drop is only a small fraction (54,000 people), with over 6.4 million people still waiting."

"Overall, the elective waiting list is 370,000 people higher than it was when the prime minister made his pledge to cut long waits at the beginning of the year.

"The reality is that it will take time and a lot of hard work to sustain this momentum, particularly during the difficult winter months to come."

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

At Oxford University Hospitals Trust, 21,797 patients were waiting for one of 15 standard tests, such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 4,841 (22 per cent) had been waiting for at least six weeks.

Other figures show cancer patients at Oxford University Hospitals Trust are not being seen quickly enough.

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

But NHS England data shows just 66 per cent of cancer patients urgently referred to Oxford University Hospitals Trust in October began treatment within two months of their referral.

That was up from both 63 per cent in September, and 56 per cent in October 2022.

READ MORE: Town dance students selected for world dance competition next year

Professor Pat Price, co-founder of the #CatchUpWithCancer campaign, said: "Despite the recent changes to cancer waiting times and focus on diagnosis, we are in a devastating cancer care rut."

The organisation is urging the health secretary to perform a "handbrake turn" on cancer.

"That means a dedicated radical new cancer plan, with a focus on tackling treatment delays and a monumental effort to get investment to frontline services."