Too many people are waiting for hip and knee joint replacements in public hospitals and the problem won't go away, Arthritis New Zealand says.
There are more people wanting hip and knee joint replacements than can be managed by District Health Boards despite the health target for elective surgery being met, or exceeded, by all but three of the 20 DHBs, says the organisation's chief executive Sandra Kirby.
She was commenting after a New Zealand Medical Journal article highlighted the problem and said patients were now more severely disabled than in 2006.
Incidence of osteoarthritis is increasing, and the age of diagnosis is dropping, Ms Kirby says.
"While we acknowledge the increase in hip and knee replacements for people with osteoarthritis under funding increases for elective surgery the demand continues to outstrip the capacity of the DHBs," she said.
The journal article looked at patients in Otago and found patients currently being returned to a GP would have qualified for publicly-funded surgery between 2006 and 2010.