A London trust and health authority are facing legal action from a community health council and doctors over a pounds7m package of cuts.

Barnet CHC was granted leave by the High Court this week to seek a judicial review of plans drawn up by Wellhouse trust, which runs Barnet General and Edgware General hospitals, and endorsed by Barnet HA.

Meanwhile, Barnet local medical committee is consulting lawyers about challenging the measures, which include closing three wards and stopping all direct GP access to a range of diagnostic services to save pounds1.8m by April.

Secretary Stewart Drage said the LMC was 'livid' about the decision 'which was taken with no discussion'.

Alleged lack of consultation is the basis of Barnet CHC's legal challenge. Health organisations are required to consult CHCs on proposals which amount to a 'substantial variation' in services.

CHC chair Elizabeth Manero said she was 'pleased' with Monday's ruling. 'This could be an important case because it could decide where the boundaries lie

between operational flexibility and major change that requires consultation,' she said.

According to the CHC, Barnet HA approved Wellhouse trust's plans without allowing time for consultation 'in the interests of the health service'.

Unison blames the current crisis on a 'financial merry-go-round' between the trust, which 'will treat 30,000 patients at Barnet and Edgware hospitals', and the HA, which 'will only agree to pay for 27,000'.

Regional officer Mike Jackson called for an 'emergency injection of cash' to prevent 'the real danger that the trust will go bankrupt' this week.

A Barnet HA spokeswoman said the HA and trust were taking legal advice before issuing a response.