The head of Leeds hospitals has publicly apologised to the city’s residents over waiting times for treatment.
Maggie Boyle said standards in accident and emergency units – which have faced a critical shortage of specialist doctors – were not good enough.
She also admitted the hospitals were “letting patients down” as delays for some needing planned treatment would continue for months.
Four patients have already waited longer than a year. Her apology comes after national NHS bosses ordered Leeds hospitals to tackle the failures, which have left Yorkshire’s biggest NHS trust with major financial problems.
And it follows Miss Boyle’s announcement two weeks ago that she is to leave her £220,000-a-year post.
Talking about patients waiting too long for emergency care, she told hospital directors: “I apologise to the people of Leeds for failing to achieve this standard and can assure them we are doing everything possible to improve the situation.”
The chief executive added that missing a target for most patients to start treatment within 18 weeks of being referred by their doctor was giving “cause for concern”.
“I am conscious that we are letting patients down and have to admit that is likely to continue for some months yet – and am very sorry that this is the case,” she said in a report.
Hospitals aim to treat and discharge or admit 95 per cent of patients who come into accident and emergency within four hours.
But St James’s Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary have been struggling for months.
Figures show only 87.9 per cent of patients were seen in time in March.
Miss Boyle said a “significant number” of staff had been recruited which would have an impact by the end of June.
National NHS heads have also ordered an action plan to address the failure to meet the 18-weeks target. In April 564 patients had waited longer than that.
The chief executive said a “huge amount” was being done and they hoped to start meeting the standard by December.
Missing the targets meant the hospitals last year failed to achieve the surplus needed to apply for foundation trust status.