COVID-19: Cancer patient accuses government of playing with people's lives as surgery cancelled three times due to COVID-19

A cancer patient's accused the Government of playing with peoples' lives, as more than 37,000 surgeries are cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Jay Reynolds-Cary has had her double mastectomy cancelled three times, and has a one-month window to get her surgery.

When New Zealand plunged into level 4 lockdown it was particularly difficult for Reynolds-Cary.

"Delta is hell... but cancer patients are already going through hell... they're literally going through their own hell and it's so scary," she told Newshub.

It's scary because she's battling cancer for a second time. In 2004 Reynolds-Cary was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and now she's been diagnosed with breast cancer, which they think is from the radiation.

She's had the tumour removed and has been warned if she has chemotherapy again she could develop a third type of cancer.

"I'm on a time limit... my surgery was back in March and I was told if I don't have the double mastectomy in six months then I would have to go down the road of chemo and radiation," Reynolds-Cary said.

Her double mastectomy was scheduled for last month, but it was cancelled three times because of COVID-19.

"The rug was pulled from underneath me," she told Newshub.

Capital and Coast DHB said surgeries will be rescheduled on the patient's assessed level of need. It said urgent and non-deferrable surgeries continue.

But Newshub can reveal Reynolds-Cary's is one of 37,000 surgeries cancelled across the country because of the lockdown.

Cancer Society medical director Kate Gregory said: "If the health services were better resourced we would have more flexibility and perhaps things would be more easier."

The Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said clinicians are "working very carefully" to prioritise some surgeries, but for Reynolds-Cary, she can't wait for much longer.

"They're playing with people's lives," she said. "This is my life and that's why I'm speaking up for all of those people who had their surgeries cancelled."

And she may not need to wait too much longer, her surgery has just been rescheduled for the end of the month.