Surgery cancellations and delays widespread as hospitals hit by Covid-19, flu
18 minutes ago
Rowan Quinn, Health Correspondent
Operations are being cancelled or delayed in nearly every public hospital in the country because of winter illnesses, with a prediction it is about to get worse.

There are 662 people in hospital with Covid as of Sunday - more than 50 percent higher than a week ago - and hundreds more with flu.

Several areas are mostly doing surgery only on cases considered life-threatening or unable to be delayed; Northland, South Auckland, Auckland Central, Waikato, Wellington and Canterbury.

Delays or deferrals are happening in most other areas, with only Timaru and Greymouth saying their planned care was continuing close to normal.

Association of General Surgeons president Rowan French said the problem with planned care, or elective surgery, was the worst it had ever been, as winter hits on top of already big delays.

Some hospitals were down a third of their theatres on any given day because of staff illness or vacancies, he said.

And he expected it to get worse.

"In a lot of places in the next few weeks you won't see any surgery done apart from the very most urgent and that means emergency surgery and cancer surgery - and you may even start to see significant delays in cancer surgery," he said.

RNZ understands some non time-critical cancer operations were already being put off.

Dr French said that can be devastating for patients...