Campaigners battling to save Huddersfield Royal Infirmary are ready to go to court.
The campaign group Hands Off HRI has given health bosses just seven days to scrap its plans – or face a judicial review in the High Court.
On Friday the group’s solicitors, Irwin Mitchell, issued the first stage of legal proceedings against Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust.
The group told the trust’s solicitors, London-based Capsticks, it would launch a judicial review into the ‘full business case’ for the hospital reconfiguration plans on Friday, October 13 – unless officials pulled the plug.
In July councillors from Kirklees and Calderdale referred the shake-up to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for a final decision.
In a statement a spokesman for Hands Off HRI said: “The trust has been informed they must withdraw their Full Business Case and halt any implementation of their plans, including any ‘stealth changes’ which they have already tried to implement.
“We have asked for more documentation which might support their plans which is currently not in the public domain. We have also offered to go into any form of dispute resolution which they may wish to consider.
“Otherwise, if we do not receive these assurances by Friday October 13, we will proceed to full litigation.
“It should be noted that the referral by Joint Health Scrutiny to the Secretary of State is not considered as a form of alternative dispute resolution.”
The spokesman added: “The trust needs to be fully aware that we have the full backing of the people of Huddersfield and beyond.
“We continue to receive messages of support from all over the country and indeed the world. We will take this whole matter to the highest court in the land if we have to.
“This is a matter of life and death for our community. We urge the trust to see sense and not to waste any more of the public’s money by hiring expensive London solicitors to fight their case. The trust still has time to pull back from this disgraceful proposal.”
Under the shake-up Huddersfield will lose its A&E department to Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax and the old HRI will be demolished and replaced with a small Urgent Care Centre, slashing beds and jobs.
Hands Off HRI says the trust failed to take proper account of the consultation and genuine concerns from health professionals had been ignored.
The group said over two thirds of the population lived closer to HRI than Calderdale hospital and the trust’s plans would leave the entire Kirklees population with no emergency NHS cover.