There are 311,000 people in Northern Ireland waiting for a first appointment with a hospital consultant, new statistics show.
The figures, from the Department of Health, are for April to June 2020, when the NHS was dealing with the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over those three months, the number of people waiting for a first appointment has risen by 4,000 to 311,090.
Health Minister Robin Swann said the focus on COVID-19 has led to a “serious impact on waiting lists”.
The statistics also show that almost nine out of 10 patients, or 89.4% (277,074 in total), are waiting longer than the departmental target of nine weeks. That is up 35,000 since the end of the previous quarter in March.
Almost 137,000 people have been waiting more than a year – an increase of more than 30,000 compared to the same time last year.