It follows the release of figures which show that a record number of patients have been waiting a year or more for routine treatment at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead.
However, the hospital became a specialist surgical cancer centre during the coronavirus pandemic and has been giving urgent treatment to people from across the south.
Figures from the Nuffield Trust show that there were 901 patients listed for elective operations at the Queen Victoria at the end of February who had been waiting for at least a year, compared with just 16 the previous year.
Overall, 10,397 people were waiting to start hospital treatment there at the end of February – an increase of two per cent on February 2020.
Queen Victoria operations director Abigail Jago said: “During the pandemic Queen Victoria Hospital became a specialist surgical cancer hub, treating patients referred to us from other hospitals across Sussex, Surrey and Kent with high risk cancers - head and neck, breast and skin - that could not wait for surgery.
“We have also continued to see a significant number of trauma patients with injuries to the eye, hand or face, including burns, referred to us from across the south east.
“We are doing everything we can to treat our patients as safely and quickly as possible, this includes prioritising those with the most urgent clinical needs first and continuing to use virtual appointments and telephone consultations, where clinically appropriate.”
According to the Nuffield Trust, across England, 4.7 million people were waiting for treatment in February this year – the highest number since records began in mid-2007.
NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said treating 400,000 patients with Covid-19 had ‘inevitably’ impacted the NHS, but the dedication of staff meant they delivered almost a million operations and procedures during the winter wave.