The legal battle to block the downgrading of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary has begun.
And lawyers acting on behalf of the group have said there is a 60% to 65% chance of victory.
One of the two campaign groups fighting the unpopular plan to shift the majority of care to Halifax has agreed to launch a judicial review.
Hands Off HRI hosted a public meeting last night where more than 100 supporters were told a “window of opportunity” to challenge the controversial plan had opened.
The legal challenge to stop the closure of A&E and the demolition of the main hospital buildings will be lodged within the next four to six weeks.
Chairman of HoHRI, Mike Forster, told the Examiner the “clock was now ticking” following the decision by Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust to approve the so-called Full Business Case for the huge re-structuring plan.
He said: “Because the legal window has opened we’re required within three months to lodge a judicial review.
“But it will take months before anything happens.”
At the meeting at Huddersfield Methodist Mission Yogi Amin, head of public law at Irwin Mitchell, took questions on the timetable, costs and recommended proceeding with action.
He told the packed room that there was a good chance of victory and vowed the legal action would not detract from the separate review sparked by Kirklees and Calderdale councillors.
On July 21 they referred the hospital shake-up proposal to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) review, which will advise the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt.
The IRP could recommend the plan is scrutinised more closely or it could advise Mr Hunt to rubber stamp the plan.
News of the IRP’s decision is expected this month.
A statement by HoHRI added: “For the last 16 months we have been instructing Irwin Mitchell to act on our behalf.
“They in turn have taken their own advice from specialist barristers.
“They have now advised us to proceed in taking out a legal case.
“We launched a legal fighting fund back in February 2016 and have so far raised in excess of £50,000.
“It is hugely disappointing that we have to go to these lengths but we are left with no choice because the CCG seem determined to destroy local NHS provision.
“The people in this area are very angry that we are now not only set to lose our A&E , but also our local hospital which was paid for by public subscription.
“We will leave no stone unturned in fighting to save HRI.
“We know this will mean more expense but we are confident that, with local and national support, we can raise the funds to take them on.”
Mr Forster told the Examiner he was confident they could raise the funds, expected to be as much as £120,000, through crowd funding.
Anyone wishing to back the challenge is encouraged to contact the campaign direct at info@email@example.com
Meanwhile, the other campaign group, Let’s Save HRI, said it was considering its position.
A spokesperson said: “Let’s Save HRI wish Hands Off HRI luck and success in whatever they decide to do.
“We are currently considering how this latest development will impact the campaign and any potential legal route the group is likely to take.
“Once the group has consulted members, a full statement will be released.”