The boss of a hospital trust has apologised for an error which saw 1,800 people deleted from a waiting list - despite not having been seen.

The admission from Matthew Trainer, chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), comes in his report to this week's trust board meeting.

Mr Trainer wrote that BHRUT, which runs Queen's Hospital in Romford and King George Hospital in Goodmayes, found the issue in a waiting list of routine referrals made by GPs.

These were for patients in need of seeing a specialist but for whom there were no appointments available.

But Mr Trainer, who took over as trust boss last year, said these patients "were removed automatically from this list before they had been seen".

Those affected were waiting for appointments in areas such as gynaecology,
neurology, neurosurgery and ophthalmology.

He wrote that the trust's waiting lists had increased by around 1,800 as a result.

Of the 63,200 people on the list, 600 have been waiting more than a year and 200 waiting more than two years.

Mr Trainer wrote: "It is stressful being on a waiting list and I am sorry this has happened.

"We are putting on extra clinics to reduce the backlog. When mistakes happen in healthcare, I believe it’s important to be open and transparent about what went wrong and be clear about what’s being done to put it right."

The trust has fixed the error and contacted all those affected, he added.

Reviews are being carried out to assess the impact of the delays and a formal group is being set up to oversee the trust's response.

The revelation is a setback to BHRUT's attempts to reduce the backlog of patients caused by the Covid pandemic.

In March last year, the number of patients waiting for more than a year was 2,430 but this has been slashed following a number of initiatives.

These include Bones weeks, with the most recent one last month seeing 71 surgeries carried out.

The ophthalmology department also held a super clinic in March, where almost 900 patients with eye conditions were seen.