At least 195,000 procedures and hospital appointments in England had to be rescheduled due to the junior doctors strike last week – but the true figure is likely to be higher.
Some 20,470 inpatient procedures were rescheduled, along with 175,755 outpatient appointments, making a total of 196,225.
An average of 26,145 staff per day were absent from work as a result of the industrial action.
However the NHS says a high number trusts haven’t reported their figures yet so these stats provided so far are “not the full picture”.
The number of cancellations is the highest to hit the NHS since walkouts began in the long-running pay dispute.
NHS national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, said: “Today’s figures lay bare the colossal impact of industrial action on planned care in the NHS. Each of the 195,000 appointments postponed has an impact on the lives of individuals and their families and creates further pressure on services and on a tired workforce – and this is likely to be an underestimate of the impact as some areas provisionally avoided scheduling appointments for these strike days.”
He added: “Our staff now have an immense amount of work to catch up on hundreds of thousands of appointments, all while continuing to make progress on tackling the backlog of people who have been waiting the longest for treatment.
“We have now seen nearly half a million appointments rescheduled over the last five months, and with each strike, it becomes harder.”
It comes as Rishi Sunak admitted meeting his promise to cut NHS waiting times will be “more challenging” as a result of further strikes.
Latest figures showed a record 7.22 million people were waiting to start routine hospital treatment at the end of February.
The Prime Minister claimed on Monday he was “still hopeful” NHS waiting lists could be driven down.
Mr Sunak said: “In spring this year I said we would practically eliminate those waiting a year and a half for their treatment and we were on track to do that – the industrial action obviously makes that more challenging but we are pushing hard to meet that target.”
He added: “I do remain hopeful – of course industrial action makes these things more challenging.”