The Lakes District Health Board's surgery waiting list has grown nearly 35 per cent since 2010 and some patients say they are sick of being told their operation is not "high priority".
Figures released to the Rotorua Daily Post by the health board show that at June 2015 there were 957 people on the waiting list for surgical procedures.
In June 2010 there were 710 people waiting for surgery and in June 2012 there were 861 patients on the wait list.
Horiana Rameka, 17, injured her foot about six years ago and is still waiting to have her operation.
"I was on the waiting list for ages in Tauranga and then we moved to Rotorua and I was transferred to Rotorua Hospital's waiting list. That was more than a year ago and I'm still waiting to have my foot operated on."
Horiana said being on the waiting list was "really annoying" because her injury was preventing her from doing things she loved.
"I was a real keen netballer but I can't play anymore because if I'm on my foot too long it starts to swell badly.
"My foot is a constant source of pain and I'm just sick of being told I have to keep waiting because my injury is not a high enough priority to be seen faster."
Another local, Kimberlee Stanley, said she was passed through several public waiting lists before deciding to pay for private treatment.
"I was on the wait list to see a specialist because my doctor suspected I had endometriosis. After a few months I got an appointment to see a gynaecologist at Rotorua Hospital and she reluctantly put me on her surgery wait list, advising this could take up to a year.
"I decided I wanted a second opinion but the hospital would not grant this so I paid to see a private gynaecologist and was put on to his public wait list for surgery.
"After waiting more than six months, I was told the endometriosis was too extensive and was referred to another specialist, based in Waikato. This was even more drama as I kept being dropped from the list as I was not from the Waikato region, and they had higher priority over me."
Mrs Stanley said after making little progress with getting treatment for her condition, she decided to opt for surgery through a private hospital.
"At the time I was very upset with what had happened to me but in the end I was looked after by a fantastic surgeon. Even though it was hard waiting for treatment, the care I received was very thorough and worth the wait."
In a written statement, Lakes DHB communications officer Sue Wilkie said greater referrals from clinicians for their patients who met the access criteria for elective (scheduled) surgical procedures could be a factor in the increased wait list.
"Lakes DHB has a pattern of previously unmet need across a range of specialties, in particular paediatric surgery, spinal surgery and cancer procedures.
"In the past, people requiring surgery in these specialties would receive their procedures elsewhere, but increasingly more of this work has been done at Lakes DHB, as we have recruited surgical staff with the specialist expertise to perform these procedures."
Miss Wilkie said the DHB would continue to operate within the clinical capacity available to meet demand.
"Surgical wait lists are inevitable and require constant management to ensure those with the greatest need are treated as a priority."