Watch: 'It's run by monkeys' - patients losing patience over Dunedin Hospital waiting lists

Long waiting lists and unfulfilled promises of a hospital upgrade have left medical staff and patients frustrated in Dunedin.

Patients say they are suffering in pain while being mucked around by the Southern District Health Board. Source: 1 NEWS

Patient Kathryn McGregor told 1 NEWS the DHB is "run by monkeys and there's too many cooks in the kitchen".

Ms McGregor has been waiting 19 months for an answer from the Southern DHB on her next surgery for a bowel condition.

"Getting fobbed off, getting mucked around, lengthy delays, told 'there's nothing wrong with you, go home'," she said.

Debbie Hill waited five years for breast cancer surgery and says she thinks that's appalling.

Now she needs more surgery, but she has no idea when that will happen, and worries her cancer will spread while she waits.

"I have days where things are just too hard. You know, I cry and I feel like nothing's ever going to be normal again. And things just get too hard," she said.

The Southern DHB's chief executive, Chris Fleming, admits there are issues and has apologised.

"All I can say is sorry and we need to do better. When we make a commitment to give you surgery we're required to give it to you within the timeframe, and we are letting some people down," he said.

The Health Minister, Jonathan Coleman, says the Southern DHB has had an extra quarter of a billion dollars in funding in the last decade.

But Labour's health spokesman, David Clark, says it is getting harder to get care than it used to be, because of underfunding.