At the end of February, 4.7 million people were queuing to start treatment, according to NHS England.
And nearly 390,000 of those patients have been languishing on lists for more than a year.
Meanwhile, the number of people in Wales waiting for non-urgent hospital treatment hit a record high of 538,861.
The huge backlog is a direct result of the pandemic – and health experts warned the impact could be “catastrophic”.
But despite the enormous pressures the virus is putting on hospital staff, it was also revealed our NHS stars have managed to deliver almost two million operations and other elective care during January and February.
Their heroics came during one of the busiest periods of the Covid crisis.
Tim Mitchell, vice-president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England blamed the second wave of coronavirus for the waiting list numbers.
He said: “The NHS had a brutal start to the year because of the second wave of Covid-19.
“Although we did see the number of patients with Covid decline in February, hospitals were still under huge pressure due to having to separate Covid and non-Covid care.
“Staff had to isolate, or were ill with the virus, and massive resources were needed to support the essential national vaccination effort.”
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