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Women with conditions so painful they struggle to walk, eat and sleep cannot get life-changing operations because one of New Zealand's major hospitals lacks the money for surgery.

Middlemore Hospital has the country's busiest women's health service, and has had to prioritise surgery for the critically or acutely ill, or those with life-threatening conditions like cancer.

Others are sent back to their GP and told to re-refer if things get worse. They include women with "non urgent" but nonetheless serious and often debilitating gynaecological conditions, including suspected endometriosis, incontinence, pelvic pain and prolapse.

• Cancer warning as delays