There's a call for a national survey to identify levels of unmet health need as a new study suggests nine per cent of New Zealander's are not getting the hospital treatment they need.
It comes as new research shows nearly a third of hip and knee patients in Canterbury, one of our largest health boards, still aren't managing to meet the threshold for a specialists appointment.
A year ago, Kaiapoi's Garry Klenner's specialist told him he needed urgent surgery for his arthritic shoulder, however, he never received a date for his suggested surgery.
"You just feel like a pawn in the game... that's all you are really aren't you?" Mr Klenner said upon receiving a letter saying he should go back to his GP.
Canterbury orthopedic surgeons say the issue is common, with Garry being far from alone.
"There are only about 30 per cent of people with major spinal disorder that can get through the system, get a first specialist assessment and get surgery," said Professor Gary Hooper.
"Patients generally have to be quite disabled before they get access for a first specialist assessment."
For this reason, Charity Hospital Founder Phil Bagshaw's now calling for a national survey to define numbers of unmet need.
"We're talking about hundreds of thousands of people who cant get the treatment they need and aren't recorded," Mr Bagshaw said.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said an extra $96 million is being spent in elective surgery, with "69 per cent more hips and knee" surgerys occurring in Canterbury compared to eight years ago.