The world's attention has been on us this week —​ Christiane Amanpour, Stephen Colbert, Anne Hathaway —​ all the greats have looked our way, or at least the way of our charismatic prime minister on her trip to New York.

Lucky they weren't looking at Rotorua Hospital.

That's where Jamie Bowman had to give birth to a child who died in her womb. She was not quite 16 weeks into her pregnancy when a scan showed the heart of the infant she was carrying had stopped beating.


She was to be given a pill to induce a miscarriage, but when she went to hospital she was told another scan would be needed to confirm the child was dead.

However, this didn't happen. Showing a degree of sensitivity that will become familiar throughout this story, she was put in the birthing unit to wait. She went home, in preference, she told the Rotorua Daily Post, to "sitting in the room where other people have their babies". She was told to come back in a week.

That's right: Take your dead baby home for a week and come back.

Obviously not the sort of person to make a fuss, Bowman did as asked and took the pill but woke up in pain the next day. Her mother drove her to hospital and she went into labour on the way.

She was taken into a room where she was left with her mother. The dead child duly came into the world without any assistance. And then nothing.

Just her and her mum on their own in a room. Not another hand to hold, not another shoulder to lean on.

She'd have been better off at home.

After 20 minutes or so, the Post goes on to say, her mother went into the corridor with a bedpan containing a "deceased baby and a lot of blood in it".


She wasn't exactly given a number and told to wait —​ that would have been far too organised. Instead she was told everyone was very busy and someone would be there soon.

Eventually someone was, but Bowman and her mother are dealing with the trauma many months later.

Her refusal to wring pity from the situation is heartbreaking: "I understand my baby had passed away," she said, as though she really didn't want to be a nuisance when they had more important people to deal with, "but it's not fair there was no one there to help us."

It's the sort of story you read and think: That can't be right ... There must be more to it ... Something will come out in the next couple of days to put it in context.

But the silence has for the most part been deafening.

And where the silence has been broken the responses have been tone deaf.

Lakes District Health Board quality, risk and clinical governance director Dr Sharon Kletchko, whose title lasts about as long as the attention Bowman received, said: "Lakes DHB always regrets when patients do not have a good experience during their visit to one of our hospitals."

Like a restaurant replying to comments on TripAdvisor.

Whatever else an investigation into this mess discovers, there is one conclusion we can already draw. Hospitals are run down, understaffed and inadequate, a bureaucratic machine for processing clients and hitting KPIs rather than places of healing and care.

Politically, health is a popular point-scoring mechanism. Bowman's tragedy shows where that approach inevitably leads.

The shame is not that it happened, but that it even could happen. This is the system we pay for at work. This shames us all.