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A total of 5.6 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of July according to figures released today by NHS England, equal to the whole population of Scotland.

5.6 million is an increase of over 100,000 from the total in June.

The longest waits were for trauma and orthopaedic treatment such as hip and knee replacements, followed by general surgery such as gallbladder removals and hernia operations.

However there are signs that more and more people are being seen.

NHS staff have delivered millions more tests and treatments this summer while hospitals cared for thousands more patients with COVID, according to new figures released today.

There were 3.9 million diagnostic tests and 2.6 million patients started consultant-led treatment over June and July, compared with 2.7 million tests and 1.6 million treatments over the same time last year.

The increase, which included hip and knee replacements and cataract procedures, came as the number of COVID patients in hospital grew from under 800 at the start of June to more than 5,000 at the end of July.

There are now more than 6,300 COVID patients in hospital, compared with fewer than 600 this time last year.

In all, hospitals in England have now treated more than 450,000 patients with the virus.

Latest monthly performance data also shows almost half a million people were checked for cancer in June and July – among the highest numbers on record – while more than fifty thousand people started treatment for cancer in the same period, a 32% increase on the same period last year.

NHS staff have also had to contend with one of the busiest summers on record with 2.9 million attendances at major A&E departments in June and July.

Ambulance crews have reported one of their most difficult periods, with almost two million calls answered during June and July, up over 50% on last year and almost 25% higher than pre-pandemic levels for same period.

The South West Ambulance Service experienced its highest demand ever this Monday, with a call on average every 30 seconds.