The number of people in England waiting to start routine hospital treatment has risen to a new record high.
A total of 6.8 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of July, NHS England said.
It marks an increase on the 6.7 million figure recorded in June and is the highest number since records began in August 2007.
Meanwhile, a total of 377,689 people were waiting more than 52 weeks to start hospital treatment at the end of July, according to the figures released on Thursday.
The number of people waiting more than 12 hours in A&E departments from a decision to admit to actually being admitted fell to 28,756 from the July peak of 29,317. However, it remains the second-highest figure since records began in August 2010 in a sign that the pressure on emergency services has not significantly eased.
A total of 71.4 per cent of patients were seen within four hours at A&Es last month, up from 71 per cent in July, but still the second-worst performance on record.
Ambulances took an average of 42 minutes and 44 seconds last month to respond to emergency calls – down from 59 minutes and 7 seconds in July but still well above the target of 18 minutes.
The figures comes just a day after the appointment of Therese Coffey as Health Secretary.
On Wednesday, she told Sky News that her top four priorities for the health service were “A, B, C, D – ambulances, backlogs, care, doctors and dentists”.
The Government and NHS England set the ambition to eliminate all waits of more than two years, except when it is the patient’s choice or for complex cases requiring specialist treatment, by July this year.
Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund said: “‘The pressure on hospitals is symptomatic of pressure right across the health and care system. At the end of August, 13,200 people were still in hospital beds despite being medically fit to be discharged, often due to a lack of available social care support.
“The challenges affecting the NHS cannot be solved without addressing the systemic workforce shortages and sustained funding shortfalls in social care.”
Wes Streeting MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, said: ““After 12 years of Conservative Government, more patients are waiting for treatment than ever before. The basic promise that an ambulance will arrive in time when you need one has been broken.
“There are still thousands of patients who have been waiting more than two years for care, another example of the Conservatives overpromising and underdelivering.”
Dr Satya Raghuvanshi, Head of Clinical at health software firm Accurx, called on ministers to give staff new technology to help streamline waiting lists.
“Managing hospital waiting lists will continue to be an impossible task unless the ways Trust staff are able to manage them are changed. Manual methods like calling patients or sending letters are not going to bring those numbers down. Thérèse Coffey must now act quickly and decisively to address this major issue by giving staff the right tech to streamline waiting lists without increasing capacity.”