About 280,000 New Zealanders are waiting for elective
surgery, and more than half are not on waiting lists, new
The report by TNS for the Health Funds Association (HFA) and
the Private Surgical Hospitals Association (NZPSHA) showed
those who were on waiting lists had been waiting an average
of 224 days.
HFA chief executive Roger Styles said more public and private
surgery was being done over the past decade, but the ageing
population meant the need was growing.
"The 280,000 waiting on both the official waiting list and
the 'hidden' list are virtually all public patients because
of public rationing," Mr Styles said.
"There is no real private waiting list, as private patients
are seen promptly. The private and public outcomes are hugely
different because of this."
The average wait for those who had undergone public surgery
was 100 days longer than private patients.
But Mr Styles said putting more money into the public system
was not the answer.
"That's what we've been doing the past few years and the
problem has been getting worse not better.
"All available information says future public health spending
is unsustainable under present policy settings. There are
options to address this, but the longer the problems are
ignored, the less effective and less palatable the solutions
become," he said.
The survey found 350,000 New Zealanders have some form of
elective surgery every year.
A further 280,000 have a need for surgery, of which 110,000
are on waiting lists.
The remaining 270,000 have been told their need is not
significant enough to go on the list, but their quality of
life is reduced and they still need assistance.
A quarter of those waiting for surgery have had to take time
of work because of the issue.
NZPSHA President Greg Brooks said the survey showed too many
people had a poorer quality of life due to problems accessing
"As well as the human cost, the survey also points to a huge
economic cost to the country in the form of lost productivity
from illness and absenteeism," Mr Brooks said.
The survey was conducted in September including 1830 people,
and has a margin of error of 2.3 per cent.
- Heather McCracken of APNZ