MORE than a million hospital appointments were cancelled due to last winter’s Covid wave.
Now, medics warn “everything possible” must be done to stop widespread postponements this year.
The impact on eye and heart clinics meant thousands suffered failing vision or worsening heart disease due to axed operations.
Across the 116 biggest NHS trusts, the figure stretched to 1.01million.
January was the worst affected month with 144,000 cancellations at 37 hospitals.
Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth said: “We need a plan from ministers to ensure cancelled operations on this scale never happen again.”
And Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, from the British Heart Foundation, stressed that treatments like heart surgery “are not a luxury”. She added:
“Everything possible must be done to avoid cancellations this winter.”
The waiting list for surgery rose again last week to a record 5.7million as A&E and cancer clinic delays grew.
The NHS said the influx of Covid patients in January had a “knock-on effect on non-urgent care”.
But it said there were 50million outpatient appointments from September to March. And it added that the “routine treatment waiting time has halved since last summer”.