The number of patients waiting more than eight weeks for an outpatient appointment has shot up by nearly a third in the space of a month, Department of Health figures reveal.

At the end of April, 43,400 people in England had waited longer than eight weeks – an increase of 31.5 per cent on March and 82.7 per cent compared with April 2008.

The number of inpatients waiting more than 13 weeks was up 9 per cent compared with March.

A DH spokeswoman said the surge had probably been caused by the bad weather at the beginning of the year.

She said 18 week wait figures remained consistent.