Rising numbers of patients are having to wait more than a year for surgery due to the effect coronavirus has had on hospital care, NHS performance statistics show.
The big rise in people facing delays of at least 52 weeks for an operation comes amid warnings that access to treatment will take years to get back to normal.
In October, almost 163,000 people in England had waited more than a year for non-urgent planned procedures – the supposed maximum waiting time is 18 weeks. That was the largest number of patients forced to wait that long since October 2008.
Responding to the performance figures published by NHS England and NHS Improvement, Dr Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation, said: “The latest performance figures for the NHS in England demonstrate the gargantuan scale of the challenge facing the health service in the coming weeks and months.”