Christchurch Charity Hospital treating thousands in healthcare crunch

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says the healthcare system is strapped for cash, and this desperation for healthcare rests in the Christchurch Charity Hospital.

Having treated more than 14,000 patients in the decade it's been open, the charity hospital is the only one of its kind in New Zealand. 

Ross Clapp, the hospital's first patient, turned to the team of volunteers after struggling to get help from the public health system. 

"You can't describe it, nor can you put into words or music," he said.

The project was the vision of Phil Bagshaw, who converted the rotting, rundown Christchurch villa into a small state of the art surgery. 

He says the hospital was borne out of frustration that people were being left behind in the health system.

"Everybody here sits down and looks at what they've managed to achieve for people that would have gone without," he said.

The charity hospital costs $15,000 a week to run, and has more than 300 doctors volunteering their services. With such high demand from patients, it's been forced to expand. 

Mr Bagshaw says it's the "ultimate proof" that there are unmet needs in the country, in regards to appropriate healthcare, and he's not alone in that thinking.

"Public hospitals should be available for people when they need it in a timely manner and our system is falling well-short of that objective," said Ian Powell, CEO of Salaried Medical Specialists Association.

But until then, the charity hospital will continue helping those who need it, just like Mr Clapp.