Official data shows NHS waiting lists continue to climb to record highs.
About 7.47 million people were queued for routine surgeries in May, up from 7.42 million the previous month.
It comes as young doctors laid down their tools for the first day of five today, prompting health bosses to warn wait times will continue to increase.
Sir Stephen Powis of the NHS said: “While staff will continue to work hard to ensure patients are well cared for, there is no doubt that this measure is likely to have the biggest impact yet.”
The NHS also experienced its busiest June ever for A&E visitors, “undoubtedly compounded by record temperatures,” he said.
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “As we enter the five-day young doctors’ strike, waiting lists are at a record high.
“Chronic labor shortages and a lack of physical capacity across the NHS and social care are hampering foundations’ ability to reduce waiting times and reduce backlogs.
“In addition, ongoing industrial action is increasing demand for hospitals, ambulances, mental health services and community services.”
Health Secretary Maria Caulfield last week admitted the list would continue to grow before falling, stressing the increase was because more procedures were being offered.
Slashing the list remains one of the government’s top five priorities, but hospital chiefs warn continued industrial action could mean ministers fail to meet their targets.
Rishi Sunak today pledged to offer junior doctors a 6 percent pay rise to ease tensions, but the increase must come within existing budgets.
The British Medical Association (BMA), which is organizing the strikes, is demanding a pay rise of up to 35 per cent and said ministers are refusing to meet over the pay dispute.
MEPs criticized the ever-growing waiting list and said the work stoppages resulted in appointments and surgeries being crossed off the papers.
Wes Streeting, the Labor shadow health secretary, said: “Patients wait months for surgeries which are then canceled due to strikes.”
Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper said: “This should be a game changer.
“More than one in ten people in our country is currently awaiting routine hospital treatment, and millions of them are now too ill to work.”