Private hospitals could be stepping up if COVID-19 infection rates rise.
Agreements are being forged with DHBs for private hospitals to also help in the lengthy backlog of elective surgeries.
Private Surgical Hospitals Association President Richard Whitney says about 85 per cent of their capacity is sitting idle and at the ready.
He told Mike Hosking an 18-month recovery period is the worst-case scenario.
Whitney says they're expecting tens of thousands of deferred admissions from both the private and public sectors.