The Whittington Hospital’s maternity unit is an adored, essential part of our community.

However, sadly it’s under threat as the North Central London integrated care system has launched a consultation looking at options to close maternity services in North London. The Whittington Hospital is one of these options.

I’m campaigning against these plans because I’ve seen first-hand the work of their superhero staff and their extensive experience caring for women from diverse backgrounds and managing complex births.  Their award-winning female genital mutilation clinic is delivering life-saving care. 

That’s why I believe the ward needs to remain open and receive the capital investment I’ve long called for in Parliament, so its crumbling buildings match the aspirations of women giving birth there.

Ham & High: MP Catherine West is campaigning to save the maternity unit at Whittington HospitalMP Catherine West is campaigning to save the maternity unit at Whittington Hospital

More broadly, I believe the Government must improve services for expectant parents across the country. The Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust’s 2020 maternity report into a failing service is a stark reminder that there cannot be any complacency for patient safety. With similar investigations underway, it’s vital that the Government listens, accepts the findings and takes action to prevent unnecessary deaths and hardship.

Three months ago, the Care Quality Commission revealed that maternity units currently have the poorest safety ratings of any hospital service it inspects. This is simply unacceptable and will increase risk to baby and mother. After more than a decade of Tory austerity, we are witnessing severe staff shortages, worsening quality of service and dangerous conditions for mothers, their new-born babies, and staff.

We must also urgently reduce the poor outcomes suffered by black and Asian women and their babies. A review of 2017-19 deaths showed that black women are more than four times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than white women in the UK, and despite years of raising this we are not seeing the improvement women need. For years, the Tories have lacked a proper women’s health strategy, and patients deserve better.

In what can be an incredibly emotional, difficult and life-changing time where women are at their most vulnerable and where lives are saved and born thanks to the hard work and dedication of obstetricians, midwives, surgeons, nurses and healthcare assistants, these proposals are a sad reminder that we must continue to fight for our NHS.

Please do sign my petition online and together, we can save maternity services at the Whittington:

  • Catherine West is Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green.