KEY waiting list targets are expected to be missed at East Lancashire’s hospitals, NHS chiefs have warned.

Medics will struggle to deal with general surgery, orthopaedics, chronic pain and max-ilfacial surgery pati-ents within 18 weeks, members of East Lan-cashire Hospitals NH-S Trust board have been told.

Val Bertenshaw, the trust’s operations dir-ector, said: “We know that particularly two of these specialisms, general surgery and orthopaedics, we will not hit (the target),” she said.

“We are doing some detailed work around forecasting exactly when we will hit (the target) in every spec-ialism.”

This is expected to be completed by the end of June, she told the trust’s board.

Trust bosses are on course to hit the annual 90 per cent target by the end of March – despite a rise in the number of reported ‘breaches’ over the past months.

A lack of consultants at the trust, as rep-orted by the Lanc-ashire Telegraph, has led to the chronic pain service remaining clo-sed to referrals.

And private healt-hcare providers have been drafted in to deal with backlogs in general surgery, ort-hopaedics, maxill-ofacial surgery and ophthalmology cases.

Accident and emer-gency bed pressures have also been blamed for the cancellation of a number of facial surgery operations, with more than 550 patients attending casualty on peak days recently.

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said the trust was still dealing with the legacy of the controversial Meeting Patients Need progr-amme, which trans-ferred several sevices between the Royal Blackburn and Bur-nley General sites.

“The rules are the rules and the trust will have to meet them.I don’t have much sympathy given the problems they have made for them-selves in the past,” said Mr Birtwistle.

But he added he did have confidence new chief executive Mark Brearley would turn the situation around.