Insight for Sunday 5 April 2015
Christchurch surgeon, Philip Bagshaw, in operating room at the city's charity hospital Photo: RNZ / Karen Brown
More than 165 thousand New Zealanders had non-urgent or elective surgery last year -- 60 per cent more than in 2003.
They were the ones who got through the complex and poorly understood system for choosing which patients are most in need of non-acute hip or knee replacement surgery, or treatment for hernias, varicose veins or cataracts.
Many others failed to make it onto public hospital waiting lists for surgery but were returned to the care of their family doctor to wait and hope for a better outcome in six months' time, or later.
No one knows how big this group representing so-called unmet need is, but surgeons say it's rising as the population grows and ages.
Radio New Zealand's Health Correspondent, Karen Brown, has been exploring what, if any, changes are needed.