The NHS could send patients to different regions for treatment to tackle the backlog as quickly as possible.

It is just one of several "radical ideas" being considered for England, according to the CEO of NHS Providers. 

The health chief said it is more likely that people will be asked to go to neighbouring hospitals for treatment, rather than different parts of the country.

The growing backlog has been a concern for some time now with health secretary Sajid Javid previously warning it could reach 13 million in England.

Chris Hopson, CEO of NHS Providers, told Times Radio: “Everybody across the NHS recognises that having patients wait for their care is not an acceptable situation.

“There is a moral obligation on trusts and their leaders to make sure that they do everything they can, no stone unturned, to get through those care backlogs as quickly as possible.

“What we’re working on at the moment is a really comprehensive plan to get through those backlogs as fast as possible.

“And some of it will be all the traditional things that we do, which is: we will expand temporary capacity; we will ensure that we use overtime as much as possible; we will ensure that we use the capacity that sits in the independent sector.

“But I think we recognise we need to go further and that’s why, some of those radical ideas, we are considering and looking at them."

The Northern Echo: The NHS hopes to create ways for hospital trusts to work together in a bid to tackle treatment backlog. The NHS hopes to create ways for hospital trusts to work together in a bid to tackle treatment backlog.

He said he does not think people will be asked to travel from “Durham to Dunstable”, adding: “So, what I think will happen is that, by getting trusts to work together more effectively – as they’ve been doing over the last 18 months – you can see people being asked to be moved, you know, relatively short distances.

 “So if you look back to the Easter Bank Holiday, there are three trusts that are currently working together – Bath, Swindon and Salisbury.

“Bath had a significant number of children who had been waiting for a very long period of time for ear, nose and throat surgery, but because they were working together, there was some spare places in Salisbury and they wrote to all of the parents of those children and said: ‘would you like to go to Salisbury on a bank holiday weekend?’.

“What really surprised the chief executives in those trusts was that actually they had a very, very high take-up.

“So, as I said, it’s not the impression that has been given – is it sort of one end of the country to the other? No. Actually, it’s likely to be hospitals that are kind of close to each other.”

Read more like this: Full breakdown of plans to make it easier for you to see your doctor

The situation across England's hospitals

It has been reported that NHS bosses have been ordered to produce a plan for tackling the waiting list – which currently stands at 5.8 million people in England – before the end of the month.

Some hospitals in the North have already started to "temporarily divert women to other maternity units" when full.

York Hospital said there were occasions when it needed to temporarily divert women to other maternity units because it was full - or times when York was asked to receive women from other local hospitals.

NHS chiefs also faced calls to come up with an emergency plan to support ambulances services over winter as all ambulance services in England are operating on the highest level of alert.

The Liberal Democrats said that all 10 ambulance trusts in England were at the highest alert level – Level Four – on October 22 as it called for action to tackle pressures in emergency care.