NHS waiting lists have reached a three-year high, according to a recent report from an independent think-tank.
The King's Fund found that nearly 15 per cent of hospital inpatients in February had been waiting for over 18 weeks for treatment.
Furthermore, the waiting times for A&E patients had also risen sharply, reaching their highest level since 2004/05.
The report also warned that the majority of finance directors who were surveyed have already warned that they are unlikely to meet productivity targets during this financial year.
Professor John Appleby, chief economist at the King's Fund, commented: "[The report] highlights significant concern among NHS finance directors – who are well placed to report on the stresses in the system – about the prospects for the year ahead.
"With hospital waiting times rising, the NHS faces a considerable challenge in maintaining performance as the financial squeeze begins to bite."
Private hospitals might be preferable for people keen to avoid such high waiting periods.