Trust which funds surgery for those who can't get on the waiting list is forced to close
A trust set up to pay for surgery for people who have been turned down by the public health system has had to close.
A lack of funding has caused the Taranaki Community Health Trust to shut up shop - even though the demand for its services was increasing, chairwoman Elaine Gill said.
"We're heartbroken about it. We've got such a wonderful system set up, but can't raise the money."
Since 2009 the trust has paid for operations for 200 people who could not get surgery through the public health system, but who could not afford to go private, Gill said.
The operations varied from knee and hip replacement to cataract and bunions, and most of the recipients were elderly.
"We've made such a difference to a whole range of people's lives," Gill said.
"The number of people who have been turned down in the public sector is getting larger. We're not taking people off the waiting list, we're helping people who will never get their operation in the public sector.
"The trust was established to help those who have been through the public hospital system and have been declined their operation because it does not meet criteria for funded surgery.
"The trust helps those who daily live with pain and suffering or have a disability that has a major effect on their quality of life."
The trust has applied to a wide range of funders, including all that are based in Taranaki, but had not been successful with any this year.
"TET said we weren't in their area, even though the support we've had from them in the past was spent on operations for people in Waitara, Inglewood and Stratford - people who were in their area. TSB said we weren't sustainable. The trust was set up to help people and give money away, so we can't be."
The trust has some money left, though not enough to fund any operations, so trustees are deciding which charitable trust to give it to, she said.
"It will probably be something age related or health related."