PATIENTS facing lengthy waits for routine treatment should be told if they could be seen sooner by travelling to other NHS facilities in Lancashire, a hospital boss ha said.

Kevin McGee, chief executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said ending the “postcode lottery” of waiting times across the county could help clear the backlogs that have built up because of the pandemic.

While Mr McGee, the ex-East Lancashire hospitals chief exec, stressed it would be entirely down to individual patients whether they took up the offer of being treated at another hospital, he said the willingness and ability of some people to travel had served to support a recent drive to eliminate the numbers waiting two years or more for an appointment.

Mr. McGee said he believed it would become a more regular conversation to be had with patients as the NHS turns its attention to clearing the thousands of other long waits resulting from Covid-related disruption to services.

He also revealed how his trust planned to reduce waiting times by trying to ensure Chorley Hospital is shielded from seasonal and ongoing Covid pressures and can continue to deliver routine procedures all year round.

Mr. McGee said the four Lancs hospital trusts - Lancashire Teaching, Blackpool, East Lancs and Morecambe Bay had worked “collaboratively” in their attempts to eradicate two-year waits.

He says "transformational” change is needed within the NHS in Lancashire in order to tackle the Covid-related backlogs in pre-planned – or elective – care.

Mr McGee added: "We’ve got to get everybody to the same level so that we equalise all the numbers down – and that’s what we’re trying to do and that would mean the trusts working together.

“We can’t have a postcode lottery where people in one bit of Lancashire get treatment less quickly than elsewhere.”

Mr. McGee said while people would want their urgent and emergency care services based locally, they were more open to “travelling a little bit further” in order to receive pre-planned treatment sooner.