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NHS waiting times have spiralled to their highest level in 12 years, official statistics revealed today.

The number of people in England forced to wait at least a year for routine treatment rocketed to almost 140,000 in September — the largest backlog since 2008.

It marks a 100-fold surge in the waiting list compared to the same month last year, when 1,300 patients were put on hold for more than 12 months.

NHS figures today also revealed cancer referrals hit a record low, with almost 30,000 suspected to be waiting more than two weeks between an urgent GP referral and their first appointment.

Experts fear the desperate situation will only get worse because the second wave of the pandemic is forcing hospitals to cancel hundreds more routine surgeries and appointments in order to manage surging Covid-19 patient numbers.

The data from NHS England also shows 1.72million patients were waiting more than five months – 18 weeks – to start treatment in September.

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