A mother whose baby died after she waited 12 hours to be seen by a doctor at Waikato Hospital believes her "little girl" would still be alive if the hospital had acted sooner.

But the Waikato DHB has responded by saying the majority of neonatal deaths were due to congenital abnormalities, babies being born too prematurely to survive, breathing complications and other clinical conditions and not because of the standard of care given.

The mother, who was only referred to as Kate, told TVNZ she was rushed to Waikato Hospital at seven months pregnant when she woke up in severe pain.

Blood tests were taken but the woman, who is a health professional, did not see the one doctor on duty for 12 hours and then another five hours before she had a scan.


While she waited the hospital reassured her the baby was fine even though they did not know what was wrong.

"I got to the point where all I could do was grip the bedsheets and sob and cry," TVNZ reported.

The mother told TVNZ she vomited red-coloured water with blood clots.

Despite being told the scan was clear, she suffered an aneurysm and went into cardiac arrest. She was later told an aneurysm could be seen on the scan.

At one point she said she turned to her husband and said to him "I think I am dying".

The woman was rushed into surgery to have a Caesarean section and her daughter was delivered 45 minutes after she collapsed.

But Kate said their daughter went too long without oxygen and believed she suffered brain damage as a result.

"We asked them to turn the ventilator off and to let her go."

Her husband added, "We didn't want her to suffer."

An ACC investigation found the doctor should have seen her sooner and felt if she had her C-section earlier then it would have detected a rupture and her baby would still be alive.

Waikato DHB Clinical Director of Quality and Patient Safety Dr Doug Stephenson could not talk about the mother's "sad case" due to privacy issued, but said the DHB had carried out a review in what it believed was the appropriate time-frame.

Stephenson said of the 1000 babies cared for in the neonatal unit every year about one died in NICU on average of every two weeks.

Last year there were 26 deaths in its neonatal unit and five of these were term babies. The majority of the babies who died had congenital abnormalities, respiratory issues and other clinical issues.

The DHB dismissed claims there had been a large number of babies dying under its watch and said the figures were comparable to other tertiary DHBs such as Auckland and Canterbury.

Stephenson reassured parents-to-be Waikato Hospital remained a "safe place to give birth".

Last week, the Herald reported a baby died last year after the mother's elective Caesarean was delayed at least once because an emergency C-section took priority.

The DHB said the two deaths were unrelated.