More than 7 out of 10 patients are being treated within 18 weeks from their GP referral, figures from the Department of Health reveal.
Some 76% of patients who do not need to be admitted to hospital are treated in 18 weeks of referral or less.
This equates to three out of every four non-admitted patients being seen within the promised referral time.
Figures show that gastroenterology treatments followed by general medicine and cardiothoracic surgery are those most likely to be performed within 18 weeks.
Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said: “Ten years ago it was common for people to wait 18 months for an operation. Since then, the NHS has come a long way and it is making good progress towards effectively ending waiting next year.
“This data gives us a complete picture of the length of waiting times in the NHS. It is the first time we have had this data and it will drive forward progress across the NHS to meet the target.
“With million of patients in the system at any one time, it is encouraging that majority of patients are already being seen within 18 weeks. Some places are making progress faster than others, but I’m confident that by the end of 2008, patients can expect to start their treatment within a maximum of 18 weeks from GP referral to treatment.”