The latest figures from NHS England show the hospital waiting list is continuing to grow, reaching 5.5 million patients for the first time.
But there has been continued progress on the longest waiting times with 304,803 having waited for more than a year in the June data compared with 385,000 in May.
Longest waits had also fallen by 50,000 the previous month.
By the end of June, 68.8% of patients started their treatment within 18 weeks, far from the 92% standard.
The median waiting time was 10.4 weeks, the figures show and during June 1.6 million patients started a new treatment pathway.
Almost two million tests were carried out in July, NHS England added – up by more than 747,000 on the same period last year.
Yet the NHS is facing one of its busiest ever summers with 70,000 A&E attendances a day in July – almost 20,000 higher than the same time last year.
NHS leaders said the figures showed continued progress in tackling the backlog.
It follows previous admissions that addressing the Covid-related backlog in treatment and restoring services was a ‘big ask’ for GPs.
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, urged anyone needing the NHS to use the NHS 111 Online service so they could be directed to the best place for care.
‘NHS staff have made effective use of the additional resources made available to us to recover services which were inevitably disrupted during the pandemic, and we are continuing to tackle the Covid backlog,’ he said.
‘This has come as services have seen some of the highest ever number of patients coming forward for care during the summer months, all at the same time as delivering the biggest and most precise vaccine roll-out in our history.’
Tim Gardner, senior policy fellow at the Health Foundation, said the data ‘highlights the difficult juggling act the NHS faces in meeting emergency pressures, restoring services and addressing the backlog of care while Covid-19 cases still remain high’.
He added: ‘The Government and NHS leaders now need to be clear and realistic with the public about how they intend to get the NHS back to full strength, including dealing with the backlog of care.
‘There will need to be significant investment at the upcoming Spending Review if we are to see improvement on waiting lists and addressing the staff shortages which are holding back progress.’