If you live in North London, there’s a good chance that you were either born at the Royal Free or you know someone who was.


The maternity centre at the Royal Free and their staff do an incredible job, supporting over 10,000 pregnancies every year from across Barnet, Camden and beyond.


It’s been a pioneer in specialist care for decades delivering 1,700 births from high-risk pregnancies in the last five years.


Living locally, I have experienced first-hand the incredible work of the Royal Free hospital. I know so many friends who have seen their children and grandchildren born at the Royal Free.


So, I was shocked to read that NHS chiefs are proposing to close the maternity and neo-natal unit at the Royal Free.


I am campaigning against the closure and want to encourage as many local residents as possible to make their voice heard.


I have started a petition to save the Royal Free’s maternity and neonatal unit. Every signature helps. You can sign the petition online at this link


The proposals are being driven by staff shortages, lack of investment under the Conservative Government and a falling birth rate driven by the lack of affordable housing in London and by Brexit. The contrast with the thriving state health service in Cyprus could not be clearer.


But closure of the Royal Free is not the solution. If staffing is the problem then surely the answer is to train and recruit more midwives and doctors and upgrade the existing services to meet the higher numbers of complex pregnancies.


In the last few weeks a letter signed by more than 50 consultants and specialist midwives hit back, stated that “The only safe option is to keep the Royal Free maternity unit open, expand it and upgrade it”.


Clinicians warn that closing the services at the Royal Free would put mothers with complex conditions at risk. The consultation hasn’t fully considered women’s health.


The Royal Free provides specialist services – like a haemophilia care unit, 24-hour radiology, renal and liver services – that other nearby hospitals cannot.


University College Hospital – where I had my own children – continues to provide exceptional maternity services, including for many residents across Barnet, but it is stretched, delivering over 6,000 babies each year. Currently, the Royal Free supports the overflow from UCH and Barnet hospitals. That would be lost if the maternity unit is closed.


People are being presented with two dire options: either close services at the Royal Free, or close those at the Whittington. I believe we must keep both unity and upgrade the Royal Free.


We should demand better. We should invest in the staff, the services and the equipment to ensure that not only are the maternity services at these hospitals fit for purpose, but that we are building in future capacity.


Having a baby, by definition, involves planning for the long-term future. Our approach should be the same for our hospitals.

The deadline for the consultation is 17th March – please make your voice heard here: https://online.ors.org.uk/questionnaire/20250AD?clear_session=true&language=en



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