Hospital services are facing mounting pressure. Staff shortages, rising demand and a squeeze on budgets mean waiting times are rising in many places.
And while the health service still sees most patients quickly – whether they turn up at an accident and emergency unit, need cancer treatment or have to have an operation – growing numbers are having to wait longer than they should.
So what is it like for those caught up in the system?
‘I waited so long I gave up and spent most of my life savings’
Christine Moon, 66, was on holiday in Bali in 2015 when she started feeling chest pains. When she returned to her home in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, she went to see her GP and ended up in hospital having all number of tests on heart.
“Eventually, they said, ‘I’m very sorry, but we’ve decided you have a 90% block in your coronary artery,'” she told BBC News.
This was in August last year. She then waited until November to see a consultant, who said she needed a coronary bypass but there would be an additional 18-week wait.
So, 18 weeks later, she rang the hospital.
“I was told they were way behind and they had absolutely no idea where I was on the waiting list,” Ms Moon told BBC News.
“No-one at the hospital could tell me when I was likely to have my operation.”
Every week, patients in more critical need of a bypass were being referred to the hospital, effectively bumping her further down the queue, she said.
“I couldn’t do any housework, I couldn’t do stuff that I normally did. My symptoms were getting worse, but I wasn’t going to have a heart attack.”
In April this year, 32 weeks after being diagnosed, she gave up on waiting and paid £16,000 to have the operation privately.
“I had to think long and hard about it, but it was really hanging over me,” Ms Moon told the BBC.
“I was more and more depressed, and just not able to get an answer out of anyone.”
Having the operation had given her “bags of energy” and her life back, she said.
But, she is angry and has spent much of her savings.
Ms Moon told the BBC: “Eighteen weeks seems to be this magic number they come out with that is just lies.
“Would I still be on a waiting list if I had not gone privately? I may well have been.”