Counties Manukau Health says it is trying to minimise the impact of the recent Covid-19 lockdowns in Auckland, despite cancelling 150 non-acute operations.
And it says it's working to address the backlog now the region has come out of the latest alert level 3 lockdown.
In June last year it was revealed the district health board (DHB) had deferred between 1400 and 1600 elective surgery operations due to Covid-19.
It was given a much needed $94 million funding boost by the Government in last year's Budget to try and get on top of the problem and it appears the DHB has been making headway, but the latest lockdowns haven't helped.
A Counties Manukau Health spokesperson said the alert level 3 restrictions in February and March led to the deferment of surgical procedures.
"Both lockdowns combined have resulted in 150 cases of elective surgery being deferred [to end of last week]," they said. "This was done based on clinical priority, linked to the National and Hospital Alert Levels Framework."
But the spokesperson said acute surgery hasn't been affected as such operations were allowed to take place during lockdown restrictions as they are deemed to be "of high clinical priority".
"Counties Manukau Health endeavours to minimise the impact of lockdowns on elective surgery while keeping our patients, whānau, communities and staff safe.
"The surgical services teams directly contact patients if their surgery is being deferred. These surgeries will be rescheduled at the earliest date possible."
In a statement, the Minister of Health Andrew Little said he was satisfied Counties Manukau Health was doing the best it could to address the backlog.
He said the country's DHBs received extra funding in the 2020/2021 additional service delivery, including $8m for Counties Manukau Health.
"There is more funding planned for additional service delivery over the next two years," Little said. "We do have an agreed plan for recovery of the backlog, even though these repeated short-term lower level lockdowns are still having an impact.
"But I'm confident every possible effort to get through it is being made."
The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) is a union which represents senior doctors who work in the country's hospitals.
Executive director Sarah Dalton wasn't surprised by the latest figures from the DHB.
"We'd heard even before the most recent Auckland lockdown that there has been a big push on to try and clear overflowing elective surgery lists and the Covid backlog, so these latest deferrals will certainly add to the pressure," she said.
"It's also happening against a backdrop of staffing shortages so it's up to the DHB to ensure that specialist and surgical team workloads are being managed safely.
"We'll be asking for assurances around that at a scheduled meeting between senior doctors and DHB managers next week."
Last year the ASMS said it would take years to cut the waiting lists created as a result of the pandemic.
Dalton said at the time that some DHBs were looking at running twilight theatres. But she said a lot of its full-time members were already working more than 40 hours a week and there were only so many hours people are willing to, or can, safely work.
And she said DHBs would also have to ensure they had enough nurses, theatre technicians and cleaners to help with the increased workload, as well as enough bed space.