Almost 163,000 people were waiting over 52 weeks for hospital treatment in October compared with just 1,600 in February, latest NHS statistics show.
Professor Neil Mortensen, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England said that the stark numbers show just how “devastating” coronavirus has been on the NHS.
He said: “Yet again, these waiting time figures drive home the devastating impact COVID has had on wider NHS services. Waiting lists for planned treatment were already heaving when the virus first struck. It has made the situation many times worse.
“Though we were able to recover some ground over the summer, October’s figures show that as the second wave of the pandemic began to build, so too did the pressures on planned surgery. Tragically, there are now tens of thousands of patients waiting for surgery, many in pain and unable to get on with day-to-day life.
“The roll-out of a vaccine this week offers the promise of better times ahead, but it will still be many months before all staff and patients are vaccinated. In the meantime, the NHS faces an incredibly challenging winter. To right the ship after the devastation of the pandemic, the NHS needs a New Deal from government, with extra investment in hospital beds and staff.”