A Norfolk hospital has been identified as having the second longest waiting times for routine treatments for patients in England.

For non-urgent conditions, people should be seen for treatment within 18 weeks of being referred.

But figures from the NHS for the end of January show that 58.6pc of patients at the James Paget Hospital were waiting for longer. The national average was just over 40pc.

Only one hospital in England had worse figures, in Milton Keynes, where almost two-thirds of patients were waiting longer than 18 weeks.

Elsewhere in the county, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) saw patients waiting 51.1pc longer, while the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn had the best local record, at 39.7pc.

The statistics come at a tough time for the Gorleston hospital.

Lowestoft Journal: Modules for a new orthopaedic unit being delivered to the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston.Modules for a new orthopaedic unit being delivered to the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston. (Image: JPUH)

Last month it was forced to declare a 'critical incident' due to bed shortages and huge pressures on its casualty department.

At the time, it said people should only attend its A&E unit in a "genuine emergency".

A spokesman for the JPH blamed the long routine waiting times on industrial action and "sustained periods of high urgent and emergency care demand over the winter".

The spokesman said the hospital was "receiving mutual aid" from other hospitals and working on using the theatres at weekends to deliver more procedures.

READ MORE: Modules delivered for James Paget's new £17m orthopaedic hub

Last week, planners at Great Yarmouth Borough Council recommended approving the hospital's plans to build a new £17m unit where more than a thousand operations could be carried out every year.

The centre will include two theatres for elective surgery - and when completed it will operate seven days a week and provide 1,400 extra operations per year.

READ MORE: Tiny baby weighing little more than a bag of sugar born at Norfolk hospital

Modules for the new unit have already been delivered to the hospital.

The hub will also house diagnostic equipment and is being built alongside a new Diagnostic Centre, which will house CT and MRI scanners.

"Together, these two buildings are part of the development of a new healthcare campus at the James Paget, which will include a new hospital," the spokesman said.