The number of people waiting for routine hospital treatment has grown to 6.4 million, the highest since records began in April 2007.
Trauma and orthopaedic departments have the largest waiting lists, with 731,000 patients queueing for treatments such as knee and hip replacements, 55,000 of whom have been waiting over a year.
The NHS England figures, for the end of March, show the proportion of people who have been waiting for 18 weeks or less has fallen to 62.4%, far below the NHS target of 92% and the worst performance in more than a year.
How is the NHS tackling the problem?
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, said hospital teams were making good progress in tackling the backlogs, with record numbers of diagnostic tests and cancer checks taking place in March, as part of what he described as “the most ambitious catch up plan in NHS history”.
He said: “We always knew the waiting list would initially continue to grow as more people come forward for care who may have held off during the pandemic, but today’s data show the number of people waiting more than two years has fallen for the second month in a row, and the number waiting more than 18 months has gone down for the first time.
“There is no doubt the NHS still faces pressures, and the latest figures are another reminder of the crucial importance of community and social care, in helping people in hospital leave when they are fit to do so, not just because it is better for them but because it helps free up precious NHS bed space.”
Dr Tim Cooksley, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “All parts of the NHS are unquestionably struggling.”
He said the absence of significant plans in the Queen’s Speech to recognise the NHS and social care crisis was “of grave concern”.
“This is an emergency which needs recognition, action and support on an urgent basis; it cannot afford to join the waiting list being endured by so many patients,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are opening new surgical hubs and community diagnostic centres so patients have easier access to tests closer to home - with 88 already open, delivering over 800,000 scans - and improving cancer diagnoses.”
The spokesperson said this was backed by record investment from the new Health and Care Levy, worth more than £36 billion over the next three years.
How is my local NHS hospital performing?
NHS waiting list targets are being missed in every region of England, with the worst performance being seen in the North West. There, 58% of people have been waiting less than 18 weeks for treatment, far below the target of 92%.
NHS figures also reveal the waiting lists for every NHS hospital trust, including the number of patients queueing for each type of treatment. To find out the size of the overall waiting list at your local hospital trust, search for it in the table below.
To find out the size of the local waiting list for a specific type of treatment, such as cardiology or ear, nose and throat, search for a hospital trust in the table below and click through the results for each department.