A woman left behind when her newborn baby was taken to hospital in an air ambulance is a casualty of an "appalling" medical transfer system, a leading midwife says.
Within hours of giving birth for the first time, Far North resident Aiyana Ferens saw premature daughter Stah-Rosa flown away in a helicopter with two pilots and four medical staff on board.
Whangarei-based helicopters are routinely used to transport "at risk" patients from Kaitaia to Whangarei Hospital, while less urgent cases travel by road.
Hospital, helicopter and midwifery workers say experiences such as Miss Ferens' are unfortunate but unavoidable because of limited space on the aircraft.
Far North midwife Robyn Denison, who manages Kaitaia Hospital's maternity unit, agrees but said the current medical transfer system in the region was "appalling".
Midwives often had to convince Whangarei staff to send a helicopter -- sometimes unsuccessfully -- only to find aircraft were committed to other jobs.
The Far North needed a "dedicated transfer team" for maternity and general patients.
Miss Ferens, 24, of Houhora, gave birth to her first child, Stah-Rosa, six weeks early and weighing only 2.21kg, at 8.30pm on November 26.
Although the birth went quite well, Miss Ferens' midwife wanted her to go to Whangarei Hospital which is set up for premature babies.
After a week in Whangarei followed by a few days in Kaitaia Hospital, mother and baby are now home and doing well.
Whangarei Hospital pediatrician Roger Tuck said "every effort" was always made to make room for mothers when babies were transferred, which happened about once a week by land or air.
- NORTHERN ADVOCATE (WHANGAREI)