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Debbie Mansfield is worried she will not be able to work or walk by the time she has a date for surgery.
The Southern District Health Board says it could take a year to catch up on cancelled and postponed surgeries in the wake of Covid-19.
But Ms Mansfield, of Dunedin, who is waiting to have a hip replacement, said long waiting times were an issue before the pandemic.
SDHB surgery and radiology general manager Janine Cochrane said more than 900 elective surgeries would be postponed in the Southern region because of the Covid-19 response.
There were delays for some patients before the pandemic, and the effects of lockdown would cause further delays.
Ms Mansfield was told she might have to wait four to six months to get a specialist appointment, which is anecessary step before surgery, after being referred from her doctor.
But after waiting that length of time, Ms Mansfield called the hospital to ask where she was on the list, and was told they were six months behind.
‘‘Going through that process when you are in pain is really upsetting.
‘‘You just want to see someone and know what is going to happen about it.’’
Ms Mansfield said she had been excited to receive a specialist appointment about three months before lockdown and would now wait for a pre-operation appointment.
‘‘I do not know how long that will take now with the Covid-19 situation and I do understand that. . .but things were already bad before Covid.’’
Her job as a machinist for the past nine years had become ‘‘extremely’’ difficult. Despite enjoying it, she had only continued working because she felt she had no choice.
Like most people she had a mortgage to pay and children to look after, including her niece, who she had raised after her own mother died of cancer.
‘‘I do not want to think about waiting another year for surgery, but I know I will probably have to.
‘‘There are so many people out there probably struggling mentally. It is hard going when you are in constant pain.’’
Dr Cochrane said while some surgery resumed last week, the SDHB would face a‘‘significant’’ backlog for some time.
‘‘Our thoughts are with the people who have had their elective surgery or other services postponed because of Covid-19, and we are very conscious of the need to provide the care they have been waiting for.’’
The postponed surgeries would be worked through in the next six to 12 months.
The SDHB would contact patients whose surgery was delayed, but would not be able to indicate waiting times.