The latest NHS figures show that a record-breaking 5.45 million patients are waiting for hospital treatment in England, the highest number seen since records began in 2007.

Emergency care was also badly affected, with ambulances across England answering more than one million calls in July alone and wait times the longest on record since a new way of logging calls began four years ago.

The service also saw the highest ever number of ambulance callouts for life threatening conditions with 82,000 calls – 8,000 more than the previous record high in June.

Progress to tackle the backlog has been made in other areas

However, the figures paint a mixed picture, as in other areas much progress has been made. For example, although the numbers of those waiting more than two years from treatment has risen, those waiting more than 18 weeks or a year are both down.

Indeed, the number of patients waiting longer than 18 weeks for care has dropped by almost 25,000 while those waiting more than one year fell by almost 32,000.

Progress has also been made in elective care, with average waiting times down for the fourth month in a row to 10.4 weeks, which is more than seven weeks lower than this time last year.

In fact, the NHS has seen over eight million elective patients since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, while seeing over 420,000 Covid patients. This means, for every Covid patient, the NHS has seen five non-Covid elective patients.

Further still, the NHS report that more diagnostic tests were carried out this month than at any point over the last year, with almost two million tests carried out in July. This is an increase of more than 747,000 compared to the same period last year.

“Highest ever number of patients coming forward for care during the summer months”

Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director for NHS England, said: “NHS staff have made effective use of the additional resources made available to us to recover services which were inevitably disrupted during the pandemic, and we are continuing to tackle the Covid backlog.

“This has come as services have seen some of the highest ever number of patients coming forward for care during the summer months, all at the same time as delivering the biggest and most precise vaccine roll-out in our history.

“I would urge anyone who needs the NHS to come forward through NHS 111 Online so that staff can help you with the best option for your care.”