THE total number of people waiting for hospital treatment at Frimley Park Hospital in October was smaller than in September but this was not enough to meet Government targets according to a hospital spokesman.

And during the same period the number of patients waiting more than 12 months and more than 15 months (for less urgent treatments) also came down.

According to the NHS South East Regional Office the figures are part of a trend across the south-east which has seen an improvement in waiting lists since the summer.

"We've got plans to get them down by the end of March," said hospital spokesman David Price as he welcomed the figures but said they were not on target for those set by the Government. However he said this was normal for the time of year, and that they hoped to catch up by the end of the financial year in March.

"It's all part of the plan. We're trying to bring them down month by month," he added as he explained the hospital was under constant pressure to juggle and balance its resources.

"There's a huge demand on A&E. We try to balance the constant pressure from emergencies, the need for operations and the need to reduce waiting lists."

"Obviously much depends on the kind of winter we have," he said recalling the flu outbreaks of recent years.

Even though the hospital has managed to halve the number of delayed discharges since September he said the bed occupancy rate was 96 per cent throughout the year.

He was however optimistic that the waiting times were coming down. The total number of people waiting for treatment at Frimley Park in October dropped 0.5 per cent from 5,488 in September to 5,462 and the number waiting more than 26 weeks to see a consultant dropped 9 per cent from 243 to 221.

The number of people waiting more than 12 and 15 months for hospital treatment fell by 14 per cent and 18 per cent respectively. Nobody had to wait more than 18 months.