By Nick Triggle
The backlog in hospital treatment continues to grow with nearly one in eight people now waiting for operations or other types of care in England.
The newly-released NHS England data shows there were 6.84 million people on the waiting list at the end of July.
It is a record number – before the pandemic there were 4.2 million waiting for treatment.
There were slight improvements in emergency care with ambulance and A&E waits decreasing.
But both services are still a long way from meeting their targets though.
Close to three in 10 people waited longer than four hours in A&E in August, while ambulance crews continued to struggle to respond to 999 calls within their target times.
The new figures illustrate the scale of the challenge facing new Prime Minister Liz Truss and her Health Secretary Therese Coffey.
Ms Truss has promised to put the NHS on a "firm footing" and the government is expected to unveil a plan for the health service next week.
It will cover England only as health is devolved.
Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, a health think tank, said the figures showed what a "monumental challenge" the government faces. "The new prime minister inherits an NHS in a critical condition," he added.
The data also includes information on two-year waits, which the government had promised to eliminate by the end of July.
At the start of the year there were more than 22,000 people who had been waiting more than two years with another 50,000 getting close to that mark.
There are currently nearly 2,900 people who have been waiting more than two years, but NHS England said the vast majority of these were either people who had chosen to wait or were complex cases that needed more time to assess.
NHS England medical director Prof Sir Stephen Powis said it showed "significant progress" was being made.
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By Nick Triggle