NHS waiting list hits record high of 7.2 million people - as almost third of patients wait four hours in A&E

The number of people waiting more than four hours in A&E, and those waiting to start routine hospital treatment, have both reached new record highs.

An estimated 7.2 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of October, NHS England said.

This is up from 7.1 million in September and is the highest number since records began in August 2007.

While the number of people waiting 18 months for treatment is decreasing slightly - and was down by 600 in October - the number of people waiting more than a year to start elective treatment has grown.

The newly released data found 410,983 people have been waiting longer than a year for treatment, up from 404,851 in September. This is the second-highest number on record, after March 2021.

It is also 223 times higher than it was in February 2020, before the COVID pandemic.

Record number of people waiting four hours in A&E

Some 31.1% of people had to wait more than four hours to be seen in emergency departments - including 45.5% of people attending Major A&Es (so excluding minor injuries units and specialist centres).

These figures are both the worst they have ever been - last month was the first time either had been over 30 or 45% respectively.

The target is 5%.

However, those facing extreme waits of more than 12 hours have fallen.

NHS England data shows that 37,837 people waited longer than 12 hours in November, down 14% from the record 43,792 in October.

However, this is still the second-highest monthly total since records began in August 2010.

Ambulance wait times

The average response time in November for ambulances in England outside London dealing with the most urgent incidents, defined as calls from people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries, was nine minutes and 26 seconds, NHS England figures show.

This is down from nine minutes and 56 seconds in October.

The target standard response time for urgent incidents is seven minutes.

Data for London is not available.

Average of 48 minutes for an ambulance

Outside of London, ambulances in England took an average of 48 minutes and eight seconds in November to respond to emergency calls such as burns, epilepsy, and strokes.

This is down from an average of one hour, one minute, and 19 seconds in October, but still well above the target of 18 minutes.

Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts

Response times for urgent calls, such as late stages of labour, non-severe burns, and diabetes, averaged two hours, 43 minutes, and five seconds, down from three hours, 34 minutes and 34 seconds.

Data for London is again not available.

Cancer wait times 2.5 times worse than pre-COVID

The number of people waiting to see a cancer specialist for more than two weeks after getting an urgent referral from a GP has decreased but is still three times higher than the 7% target.

It is also 2.5 times worse than pre-pandemic.

Some 8% of people are waiting more than a month for treatment after a cancer specialist has decided they need it. This is double the 4% target, although slightly improved from September's 8.9%.

The NHS has a target of two months from urgent GP referral to treatment, with no more than 15% waiting longer.

In October 2022, 39.7% of people were waiting longer, the second-highest figure on record.