Almost 700,000 patients are now waiting more than 18 weeks for access to vital NHS care, statistics show.
At the end of November 2019, 84.4% of patients had been waiting less than 18 weeks from referral to treatment for elective procedures – well below the 92% target.
The 18-week target has not been met since February 2016.
Patients waiting for neurosurgery were the least likely to be see within the target time, with only 78.2% treated within the 18-week target.
David Hare, chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, said there needs to be more power put in the hands of patients.
“Patients have a legal right to choose where they receive their NHS care, including finding a provider with lower waiting times,” he stated.
“With the latest NHS Digital figures showing that in some areas as many as three in four people are not aware of their right to choose, it’s vital that the new government makes a renewed push to kick-start the patient power agenda so that all patients can receive the fastest possible access to treatment in the setting of their choice, helping to get NHS waiting times down for good.”