MPs have criticised plans which could shut the Whittington Hospital’s neonatal unit, claiming it would be a “terrible decision”.

Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, spoke over the weekend at an event organised by Whittington Babies, a charity that supports the neonatal unit at the hospital.

She was joined by Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn, as well as more than 40 children who were cared for in the unit as newborns.

Some maternity services at the Archway hospital are under threat after NHS North Central London Integrated Care System (NCLICS) said it planned to reduce the number of neonatal units it runs.

Currently, hospital bosses say they prefer an option which would see the unit at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead shut, but Whittington was listed as their second preference for closure.

The move comes after a fall in the number of babies being born in the five north London boroughs covered by the ICS.

But Ms West claims that closing the unit at the Whittington would be a “terrible decision”, and could force families to travel further to access maternity services.

She added: “I’ve responded to the consultation to oppose the plans and I’ll keep making the case for capital investment, so our beloved Whittington’s crumbling buildings match the aspirations of women giving birth there.”

Islington Gazette: Both Catherine West and Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the eventBoth Catherine West and Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the event (Image: Whittington Babies)

Some of those who have spent time in the neonatal unit also attended the event on Saturday (February 10) – including one family who drove down from Manchester and a pair of twins who were celebrating their seventh birthday.

Vice chair of Whittington Babies, Viviane Albert, told Ham and High it would not make sense to shut the Whittington unit, as it takes babies from 27 weeks of age whereas the Royal Free’s unit only takes them from 34 weeks.

The mum, whose seven-year-old son spent five weeks at the Whittington as a newborn, added: “There’s a big argument for the Whittington to be the preferred one that stays open.

“But we don’t just want to assume that good sense will prevail because you never know with these things."

Full details of the plans for maternity services at NCLICS can be found on its website. Comments on the proposals can be made until March 17.