This is the second of a brace of stories about the impact of longer waiting times and bigger waiting lists, which will undoubtedly impact more severely on rural areas due to the major pockets of co-morbidities.
Up to 14 million people could be on NHS waiting lists in England by next autumn, new analysis suggests.
Currently, some five million are waiting for routine operations and procedures - many of whom are in pain.
But the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned there is a huge hidden backlog of patients who are still yet to come forward for treatment.
The government pointed to the £1bn it had given to the NHS this year to clear the backlog.
There have been repeated warnings over the length of hospital waiting lists in England. A record number of patients are currently waiting for surgery - such as hip or knee replacements - with more than 385,000 patients waiting more than a year, compared to just 1,600 before the pandemic.