The number of people awaiting hospital treatment in North Wales has passed the 100,000 mark, it has been disclosed.

A senior official of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board says the number waiting over 36 weeks, which is more than the total for the rest of Wales,  is “a significant concern for the organisation”.

The serious situation is referred to in two reports to be considered by the board next week.

Director of Performance Dr Jill Newman says that 12,378 have been waiting over 36 weeks since being referred for treatment, a rise of 853, with 3,391 having waited over 12 months.

In the east, based around the Maelor Hospital, Wrexham, 5,500 patients have been waiting for 36 weeks, an increase of 303, but the greatest deterioration has been in the central area, with 450 more patients waiting.

“The total waiting list size is now 102,647 patients and the specialist with the highest volume of breaches remains orthopaedics, with 3,196 patients over 36 weeks,” says the report.

Dr Newman comments: “ The deterioration of 853 over 36-week breaches in month (sic) is a significant concern for the organisation.”

Various steps are being taken to improve the situation and talks are being held with the Welsh Government.

An annual assessment report by the Wales Audit Office says “there is a mismatch between supply and demand in some specialities”, and the situation is exacerbated by the demand for unscheduled treatment plus a shortage of staff in some key areas.

“The number of patients waiting longer than 36 weeks within the Health Board now exceeds the total for the rest of Wales.

“As in previous years, the board is using outsourcing to provide additional capacity, but this approach adds to cost pressures, and while this helps to deal with the waiting-list backlog it does not help balance its own supply and demand.”

Among its other conclusions the Auditor says some improvements in performance and management have been achieved, but goes on: “The Health Board continues to spend beyond its means, which has resulted in a cumulative £109.9m deficit over the last three years, a £21.2m year-to-date deficit in 2019-20 and several key performance measures, particularly relating to access to services, are significantly off-target.

“Nevertheless, the Health Board’s commitment to quality is showing improvement in some areas.”