An emergency medicine specialist says so-called granny dumping at hospitals over the Christmas holidays is a growing problem as the population ages.
Paul Quigley from Wellington Hospital told Checkpoint some families dump their elderly relatives off at hospitals in a bid to get a break, with no contact details and they may go off for an overseas holiday.
He says that takes beds that other sick people may need, as the elderly person can take up to 20 days to place in other care.
"These days of modern hospital care, that represents six or seven other patient stays. So the average patient in hospital is three-and-a-half to four days, and if they were turning the beds over at that rate, there would have been six other patients in."
Dr Quigley says typically, four or five of these cases can affect 30 patients.
He says family members may even lie to hospital staff to have their elderly relatives admitted.