A London reconfiguration dispute has escalated after a borough council was granted a judicial review of the plan.

Enfield council announced that the High Court had agreed to hear the challenge to proposals for North Middlesex, Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals early next year.

However, Barnet, Enfield and Haringey primary care trusts are seeking to have the review called off.

The proposals to downgrade Chase Farm Hospital’s accident and emergency unit and maternity services were approved by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel and health secretary Alan Johnson in September.

Major distraction

Enfield PCT chief executive Stephen Conroy, who is leading on the proposals, said: “The legal challenge is a major distraction from that and risks delaying the implementation of much needed improvements that have been endorsed by local consultation, by independent experts and by the health secretary.

“Today we are asking the court to set aside its decision to grant permission for a judicial review because we have not been given the opportunity to submit our evidence and so the court has not yet heard our side of the argument.”

Wrong decision

Enfield council said if the challenge went ahead it would be the first judicial review of an NHS reconfiguration.

Council leader Mike Rye said: “We believe the decision to close A&E is wrong, and the community believe it is wrong, and it must be reversed. If we can only do this by judicial review, so be it.”