The NHS waiting list has reached a record high for the second month in a row, according to official figures.
There are now 4.3million people waiting for hospital treatment and 140,000 people were added to the list between January and April this year.
Record numbers of people are being treated by NHS surgeons and specialists but more of them are having to wait longer than four-and-a-half months.
The waiting list figures were released alongside other data revealing May was the second busiest month on record for A&E departments in England.
Health leaders have said 'patients in pain' are behind the growing numbers and the Government isn't taking the issue seriously enough.
Critics say the Government isn't taking the NHS's 'dire situation' seriously enough and more investment is needed to stop the 'ever-deepening' crisis (stock image)
The waiting list figures show how many people have been referred for outpatient treatment at hospitals in England but haven't yet had it done.
April's figure was around 70,000 higher than March's, with a rise from 4.23million to 4.3million people.
In comparison, a year ago there were 4.03million people n the list, and two years earlier it was 3.78million.
The rise comes as medics complain of burgeoning patient lists and numbers of people with multiple serious health conditions.
'We must not forget that behind these numbers are patients waiting in pain and discomfort,' said Professor Derek Alderson, president of the Royal College of Surgeons.
He added those patients are 'possibly unable to work or look after themselves, all the while worried about when they might receive the treatment they need'.
'Living this way for months on end can have a huge impact on quality of life and further deterioration in their health.'
Procedures people have to wait for tend to be routine non-emergency operations such as joint replacements or cataract surgery.
'These figures show NHS performance is heading in the wrong direction,' added Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst at health think-tank the King's Fund.
'The new five-year funding deal for the NHS came with the explicit expectation that the NHS would get back on the path to delivering its core performance standards.
Figures revealed today by the BBC showed almost three out of four NHS hospitals failed to hit an NHS target of treating 85 per cent of cancer patients within 62 days of their GP referral.
Some 94 out of 131 NHS trusts missed the target in 2018/19 – a rise from just 36 five years earlier.
In the worst performing trust last year – Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells – only 60.8 per cent of people were treated within the four-and-a-half month target.
In all, 28 trusts failed to treat even three quarters of their patients on time – a measure that would still be significantly lower than the NHS target.
NHS England as a whole managed to treat just 79.4 per cent of people within 62 days of their urgent referral