Waikato District Health Board could lose $2.7 million from its $29.6m elective surgery budget if it doesn't meet a target set by the Government, and Labour says that's not fair.
The DHB is struggling to get its patients seen by specialists within four months and has set up extra clinics in a dash to see as many as possible before the end of the month, the target deadline, Fairfax reports.
All DHBs have targets for a set of health services and face penalties if they don't meet them.
The Waikato DHB says it's suffering from staff shortages and unfit theatre conditions.
"At the moment we're three surgeons down ... we have struggled recently, particularly in orthopaedics," said the DHB's director of hospital services Brett Paradine.
Labour's acting health spokesman, David Clark, says the situation is "downright disturbing" because the DHB is doing its best but doesn't have the resources to meet the target.
"Waikato's hard working DHB staff are thoroughbreds that should be properly resourced and supported," he said.
"Yet the Government seems intent on beating each tiring horse ever more brutally - we need to support those going the extra mile."