The Ministry of Health plans to start recording the number of people who had been referred to hospital for elective surgery, but didn't make it on to a waiting list.
Research completed last year revealed about 170,000 New Zealanders needed elective surgery, but didn't meet the criteria.
However, there are no official figures, because when a GP refers a patient to a hospital, no details are kept on referrals that are declined.
The ministry's new initiative - called the National Patient Flow Collection - would do that, National Health Board electives manager Clare Perry said.
The new collection would reveal more about what is called "referred demand".
The collection will also mean that patients, the professionals making referrals, and the providers of services can better understand what is happening, and how well demand is being met across DHBs, Ms Perry said.
In the last five years DHBs have increased their elective surgery from 118,000 operations in 2008 to 158,000 operations last year.
Taranaki District Health Board clinical services manager Lee McManus said Taranaki DHB did not keep records of people who were referred back to their GPs.
"There are some people who would benefit from an operation however we need to treat the most urgent patients first within the resources that we have available," Ms McManus said.
In 2010 the Taranaki Community Health Trust started a scheme to cover the cost of surgery for those ineligible under the public health system and who could not afford to access private healthcare.
Since then the trust had funded operations for about 236 Taranaki residents at a cost of $900,000, secretary David Showler said.
The surgery covered a range of problems including hips, knees, shoulders and carpal tunnel.
"We aren't doing a lot of advertising. We are waiting to raise some more funds."
He had 40 applications at the moment, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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