A Waikato District Health Board member wants to know why the board did not know about the death of a baby at Waikato Hospital until the Herald broke the story yesterday.
Dave Macpherson said the board was not advised of "this terrible case" which happened in September last year - not December as previously stated - and he was now concerned there would be other serious cases the board did not know about.
"Had we been informed that the reason the baby died was due to a lack of delivery suites, after the hospital 'bumped' the planned C-section to cater for an acute case, we would have had the chance to address this problem earlier," Macpherson said.
After the Herald revealed the tragedy last night, Macpherson said he had received allegations from the medical community that it was not the first, and that hospital managers had stopped using a "risk alert" system that could have highlighted the risk of the delayed C-section after they began receiving too many high-risk notifications.
"The women's health section of Waikato Hospital has staff that work very hard on behalf of their patients, but has had multiple management changes in the recent past."
The obstetrics and gynaecology department lost its training accreditation in late 2015, which meant up to 10 registrars left to train at other hospitals.
Women's Health commissioner Tanya Maloney said yesterday the department recruited non-training registrars and was now on track to regain the accreditation by early next year.
But Macpherson said the board should still have been alerted to the death sooner than 15 minutes before the Herald story appeared online.
"Issues such as these are very concerning to board members who have a responsibility to ensure the DHB delivers good quality health services to our community," he said.
"But even more concerning is the apparent culture, right across the DHB sector, of only telling the good news.
"This leads to spin and delay replacing fact and action, and to problems not being addressed as early as they should be."
Macpherson outlined several areas where this is happening in his DHB:
• The Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman and board chairman Bob Simcock claiming that Waikato DHB could deliver a "break-even" budget for the 2017-18 year, when it is facing a $32.5 million deficit.
• Several delays in producing a report into chief executive Dr Nigel Murray's work expenses where concerns were raised over unexplained spending. The board was told in mid-July a report would take two weeks, but Murray remains on leave two months later as the investigation continues.
• The failure of management to tell the board of this death, and any other serious incidents, leading to issues not being addressed.
Macpherson complained to acting CEO Neville Hablous who was investigating the process.
Another board member, Mary Anne Gill said if doctors had voiced concerns board members should be informed.
"So many of those doctors, nurses, midwives up there are just outstanding and I think if they have got concerns and they've raised them with management and nothing's happening then as board members we need to know that."