The number of people waiting for treatment after being referred by their GP in England has generally been rising since 2011/12, when it stood at 2.6 million referrals in August 2011. It was 4.4 million as of August 2019 though some hospital trusts didn’t submit their data so the true number is likely to be higher still. This is the longest total waiting since 2007/08.
Patients referred to a consultant should, according to NHS standards, start treatment within 18 weeks. The NHS has a target to ensure that, at any one time, no more than 8% of people on the waiting list should have been waiting more than 18 weeks before starting treatment. This target has not been met since February 2016.
This article is part of our Ask Full Fact series on the 2019 general election, answering your questions about the election, from claims the main parties are making to what happens on polling day.
You can see all the questions we’ve answered so far and we’ll keep adding to it as we get through them.