A member of the embattled Waikato District Health Board has hit out at a culture of secrecy within the DHB after another baby death at Waikato Hospital was brought to light by media.
It comes at the same time as senior doctors at the hospital has spoken out to allay women's fears about giving birth at Waikato Hospital.
In the latest incident revealed by media, a premature girl died after her mother waited 12 hours to be seen by a doctor at the hospital and an ACC report found the level of care below standard, TVNZ reported.
But Waikato Hospital services clinical unit leader group chairman Chris Holdaway, speaking on behalf of seven of the hospital's high-ranking doctors, said staff in the delivery suite went to great lengths every day to provide a safe service for pregnant women in the Midland region.
Holdaway said he was in no way minimising the distress felt by mothers and families who had suffered a bad experience.
"It is unacceptable for avoidable incidents to recur, and we will keep striving to improve wherever we can. We care about our patients and we care about our staff."
Holdaway said members of the community may be concerned that the obstetric service is in crisis.
"Women may worry that their life, or the life of their unborn child, is at risk if they present to Waikato Hospital. We would like to reassure you that significant improvements have been made, and they are ongoing."
He said while some of the challenges in providing a safe environment had played out publicly, it should give people comfort to know how focused staff are on getting the situation right.
"It is our view that the Women's [Health] service is safe today, and that the staff will look after you as well as they possibly can."
He implored the community and board members to support the staff who work in the service, and "who come to work every day to do the best they can for you".
Earlier WDHB member Dave Macpherson said he was saddened, horrified and embarrassed by the latest story.
In the case on 1 News last night, the mother, referred to as "Kate", said she was rushed to Waikato Hospital at seven months pregnant when she woke in severe pain.
Blood tests were taken but the woman, a health professional, did not see the only doctor on duty for 12 hours and waited another five hours for a scan.
The woman began vomiting and went into cardiac arrest. She was told the scan did not detect anything abnormal but later found out it showed the aneurysm, she told 1News.
The baby girl died when her parents turned off her life support. They believed she had been deprived of oxygen during an emergency caesarean section.
Macpherson said he was sad that any family had to go through that experience and horrified that "Waikato DHB is being told one thing, while the facts coming out in the media are pointing to something else".
He said he was embarrassed that as a member of the board he was in the dark about this death and another baby's death reported last week, and was "therefore not in a position to do anything to improve the situation for the future".
Macpherson said doctors, nurses and midwives were being let down by poor organisation, underfunding and a "culture of denial" within the DHB.
"As a new board member, I am upset by the sanitising of bad news to the point that we learn little and that no one can ever be held accountable.
"As an organisation, Waikato DHB will not improve until we genuinely admit our problems to ourselves, and confront the issues that need to be dealt with."