MPs and councillors in Brent have warned plans to cut the number of maternity units in north London would have a “devastating” impact on women and families.

The number of neonatal units based in Camden, Islington, Haringey, Enfield and Barnet could be reduced from five to four, under plans being considered by North Central London Integrated System Board (ICS).

It comes as the number of babies born in the area continues to decline, with around 20,000 babies being born between April 2021 and March 2022 – 1,000 fewer when compared to 2018.

Hospital bosses say they currently favour shutting down maternity and neonatal services at the Royal Free Hospital, while retaining those at University College London Hospital (UCLH), Barnet Hospital, North Mid and Whittington Health in Archway.

Another option would see the Royal Free remain open, and the Whittington services close instead.

But prominent politicians in neighbouring Brent have now written to board chair Mike Cooke expressing “reservations” about the proposed changes.

They claim the plans would reduce the maternity options available to Brent families.

Currently, around one in ten residents in the borough gives birth in north central London, amounting to almost 400 births a year.

In their open letter to Mr Cooke, eight Brent councillors, three MPs and two London assembly members urged the ICS to “advocate for the preservation of these essential services”.

They added: “And although the number of women and people giving birth in north central London may be declining, the number of pregnant women who don’t live in those boroughs but choose to give birth there needs to be taken into consideration.

“Many Brent residents do exactly this, and we are concerned that their activity and freedom of choice is not being duly considered outside the footstep of the consultation.”

The politicians, who include – council leader Cllr Muhammed Butt, Tulip Siddiq MP, Barry Gardiner MP and Dawn Butler MP – also warned that the plans risked increasing demand for services at Northwick Park Hospital.  

Jo Sauvage, chief medical officer for North Central London ICB said: “We want to improve the quality of care and outcomes for all people using maternity and neonatal services and give every child the best start in life."

She added: ”We’d encourage everyone to take part in the consultation so we can understand from local people what they feel the impact of these proposed changes would be and take this into account in our decision-making.”

A public consultation on the proposed changes will run until March 17.