More than two million people on the NHS waiting list – half the total – are having to wait more than 18 weeks for hospital treatment in England.
NHS statistics show that he number increased to 2.15 million in July, more than three times the 620,454 waiting at the same point in 2019.
It is the highest number for any month since records began in August 2007.
Some 83,000 have waited over a year, up from 2,000 before the pandemic.
The delays come after all non-urgent elective surgery in England was paused to free up around 30,000 beds at the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
Private and independent sector hospitals were also asked to stopped carrying out operations on both privately-funded and NHS-funded patients in order to free up capacity for COVID-19 patients.
Critics of the delays to treatment in NHS and independent sector settings say that most of the additional capacity that was created by the delays has not been used, leading to the record waits being seen now.
However, there are signs that some areas of NHS activity are returning to normal levels.
More than 140,000 operations such as knee and hip replacements were carried out in July, up from 41,000 in April when routine treatments were cancelled. But that is less than half the level seen in the same month last year.
And while nearly 21,600 cancer patients started their treatment in July, down from 28,000 in the same month last year, that figure is up from 16,600 in May.
Nevertheless, the overall picture “disappointing to see waiting lists still shooting upwards,” according to the president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Prof Neil Mortensen.
Prof Mortensen said: “Patients who have now been waiting many months, even a year or more for their treatment, cannot afford to wait until next spring. For those unable to return to work due to their condition, this is not only a health issue, but an economic one too.
“We urgently need to build up our hospital reserves if we are to see this winter through. Flu, together with continuing local Covid outbreaks, must not bring surgery to a standstill again, or thousands more will suffer.”