The Health and Disability Commissioner is investigating a Masterton woman's claim that her baby died at Hutt Hospital because her midwife and a doctor refused to work together.

Gael White was enraged last week when Health Minister Annette King dismissed as scaremongering warnings from doctors that the country's maternity care system was dangerous.

Medical Association chairwoman Pippa MacKay described the system as "dangerous, blinkered and ideological," but College of Midwives director Karen Guilliland said it was one of the best and safest in the world.

Mrs White said her baby girl, Abigail, was stillborn when delivered at Hutt Hospital in June 1999.

"There was no communication between the midwife and the doctor side of things. There was a series of botch-ups the whole way through."

She said that when she went into labour it was discovered the baby was at an oblique angle to the birth canal. The midwife, her designated lead maternity care provider, had promised her she would receive an epidural injection. But the doctor she called in refused until he had broken her waters.

"But I couldn't get up on the bed because I was in so much pain."

Mrs White said because she could not get up, the doctor left in anger. The midwife called another doctor, but her baby was born dead.

Mrs White believed if she had been given a caesarean operation straightaway, Abigail might have lived.

"I think it is a dangerous situation with midwives and doctors. There is basically a lack of cooperation."

Mrs White made a complaint to the commissioner in February 2000.

The doctor involved said Mrs White's version of events was not entirely correct. While the matter was under investigation, he would not comment further. NZPA

The midwife could not be contacted for comment.

Hutt Valley District Health Board medical director Robert Logan said an internal inquiry had been held and he could not comment. A spokeswoman for Commissioner Ron Paterson's office could not give a time frame on when the inquiry would be completed.

- NZPA