Royal Cornwall Hospital patients 'jumping waiting list'
Recently referred patients are being treated ahead of those on a waiting list, the Royal Cornwall Hospital (RCH) has admitted.
Up to 670 people had been waiting for more than the government waiting time target, of 18 weeks, the hospital said.
It explained it was treating the newer referrals first to avoid penalties for further target breaches.
However, patients' group Health Initiative Cornwall said patients should be treated in order.
The hospital said its waiting list had grown because of operating theatre improvement works.
Orthopaedic Surgeon, Andrew Lee, told BBC News: "We're doing our very best not to make any more breaches.
"We're therefore treating the people under 18 weeks as well as dealing with the breached patients as fast as we can."
However, Graham Webster, from Health Initiative Cornwall, said: "[The patients] feel they've been left on the shelf, and they feel people are not concerned that they're having to wait a long time for their treatment."
The hospital said a mobile operating theatre brought in in June, at a cost of £500,000, had helped reduce the operations backlog, from 1,600 to 670.
Mr Lee said the hospital had also invested in new equipment and increased the number of operations it did each week.