More than 5000 people missed out on elective surgeries over a three-month period last year, new data released by the Government shows.
And Health Minister Jonathan Coleman is expecting that number to grow.
Between July 1 and September 30 last year, GPs across the country made close to 146,000 referrals to hospital specialists.
Of those, 90 percent were accepted for a first specialist assessment.
Close to 10,000 patients had their requests delayed so further investigations could be carried out, or declined because there was insufficient information, the service was no longer required or they were transferred to another district health board.
But the biggest concern is the 5335 patients who didn't meet their DHB's "threshold" for publicly funded elective surgery.
Dr Coleman expects that as the data builds, the number of patients declined and sent back to their GP for care because they didn't meet the threshold to rise to about 10 to 15 percent.
Thresholds are set by individual DHBs to prioritise access to elective surgeries.
The Government started collecting referral data in July 2014.