Our public health system may have to tackle a mounting surgery backlog, and surgery waiting lists could grow exponentially if COVID-19 cases soar.

Auckland’s district health boards have the funding and people to handle the massive task of tackling the region’s elective surgery backlog, Health Minister Andrew Little says.  But not everyone shares his optimism.

Under the national guidelines for alert level 4, all non-urgent care, including surgery and outpatient appointments, have been postponed.  Auckland’s DHBs have not been able to provide exact numbers on how many procedures have been cancelled at this stage.

But in June 2020, it was revealed Counties Manukau DHB had deferred between 1400 and 1600 elective surgery operations due to the first Covid-19 lockdown.

Health commentator and former Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) executive director Ian Powell said last week that DHBs would face a real test to get on top of the backlog after this lockdown.

“The issue will be getting the medical staff and nursing staff to carry out the catch-up operations. It will be a real logistical challenge.”

How will private medical insurance help?

Private medical insurance will not pay for COVOD-19 treatment, but it can help you avoid waiting lists to get the urgent surgery you need that is non COVID-19 related.  If our health system has waiting lists now, imagine what is going to happen when our public health system is overloaded with COVID-19 cases.

I need to be fair here and point out that the deferred surgeries mentioned above were elective and therefore not urgent or acute, but it present a question, and that is “what is going to happen to our health system over the next 12 months”?

Will private insurance help avoid surgery waiting lists?

The short answer is that it can, but it will depend on what surgery you need and how critical/acute it is and whether there is funding and resources for the treatment you need.  Don’t wait until you need treatment, if you want until you need it, no insurer is going to cover it, so you need to make sure you get it now, so you have it when you need it most.

Please contact us for professional advice, options and pricing.

surgery waiting lists