The Covid surge in January hit key services including cancer and routine surgery, NHS England figures show.
Less than half the expected number of operations were done, pushing the waiting list to a record-high of 4.6m. More than 300,000 of those have been waiting more than a year for treatment - compared to 1,600 before the pandemic began.
Surgeons described it as a dire situation which would take a long time to turnaround.
Tim Mitchell, of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: "Behind today's statistics are people waiting in limbo. Many will be in considerable pain, o