The number of people in England waiting for hospital treatment hit a new record high of 6.8 million at the end of July, according to new figures.
The performance data from NHS England showed waits were up from 6.7 million in June and are now at their highest since records began in August 2007, equating to around one in eight of the population.
A total of 377,689 people in England had been waiting more than a year to start hospital treatment at the end of July, up from 355,774 at the end of June.
The latest figures also showed 28,756 people waited more than 12 hours in A&E in August.
Although this was down from the record 29,317 recorded in July, it is still the second highest number reported for any calendar month in records going back to August 2010.
NHS England figures have also shown this was the busiest summer ever for ambulance staff dealing with the most serious callouts. Between June and August, paramedics dealt with more than 237,000 category one incidents, up a third on pre-pandemic levels (177,190 in 2019), said NHS England.
The NHS post-Covid backlog
This was also reflected in ambulance wait times for urgent incidents, which at nine minutes and eight seconds remain above the target standard response time of seven minutes.
A total of 71.4% of patients in England were seen within four hours at A&Es in August. This was up from 71.0% in July but was still the service’s the second-worst performance on record.
The number of people waiting more than 12 hours in A&E departments in England from a decision to admit also fell, although numbers remain close to record levels.
More positively, there were 1,521,711 patients waiting for diagnostic tests in July, fewer than in May and June and the lowest since February, said NHS England.
Last month, NHS England said it intended to open more than new 50 new surgical hubs to help bust the Covid-19 backlogs. The hubs are expected to provide at least 100 more operating theatres and more than 1,000 extra beds.
Responding to the latest figures, Nuffield Trust chief executive Nigel Edwards said: “These figures clearly show what a monumental challenge faces the new prime minister and health secretary in delivering on the NHS.
“The total waiting list now exceeds 6.8 million, and in August over 130,000 patients were left waiting over four hours for a hospital bed. These waits are now worse than they were in previous winters. The new prime minister inherits an NHS in critical condition,” he added.